Saturday, July 28, 2012
Because it's been so hot and humid lately I've not spent much time in the garden. The last couple of days have been much more tolerable, and this afternoon I wandered out with camera in hand to see what I would see.
My main backyard garden bed is a mix of vegetable space and perennial flowers, with a fair amount of weeds and grass in the mix.
Today I noticed that I have several tomato fruits developing, my peppers have pretty, bell-like flowers but no fruits yet, and my cucumber plants have been nibbled badly and are not faring well.
But mostly I noticed the flowers and the bees. On a mass of flowering thyme, tiny bees were in constant motion. Purple coneflowers are flowering in abundance, and the phlox is now in bloom. And on the giant Joe-Pye weed, standing well over five feet tall, there was a bee on almost every flower cluster. I saw one bumble bee, as well.
Joe-Pye weed (genus Eutrochium) is well known as a wonderful attractor for bees, butterflies and moths. It is native to the eastern United States. It's a pity that it has "weed" in its name (as quite a few valuable wildflowers do, including the milkweed so important to our monarch butterflies), as it may sound less appealing to add to gardens, but it's a terrific native plant for this area, supporting our pollinators. This page about gardening to support wildlife in Minnesota has a helpful list of other flowers, shrubs and trees that will encourage our native insects and birds.
I don't know whether any of the bees I saw today were standard European honeybees, whose mysterious declines we have read so much about, or whether they were all native bees. Whichever kinds they were, they were all busy with the vital work of pollination, and I thank them.