Posts Tagged attracting bees

Eight New Years Resolutions to Make for Your Yard

The time when we make decisions about the next twelve months is here once again.  While we all make decisions about our weight, our health, and possibly our wealth, it may be a good time to take a look at our yard and 2014 fireworks.make a few decisions about that as well.  Here are the top ten new years resolutions for gardening and landscaping in 2014:

#1.  Do one thing to make your yard more organic.  Amend your soil with natural fertilizer, add organic mulch, or use some elbow grease instead of weed and feed.

#2. Spend more time in your yard.  Your yard may be a paradise or a mess.  Either way, resolve to spend more time outdoors, enjoying all the benefits of living in Southern California.  This may mean you need to make some improvements to your yard or it might mean you need to drag a lawn chair outdoors.  Whatever you do, enjoy your yard this year. Enjoy your yard

#3. Try planting at least one thing which is both beautiful and edible.  You can be as minor as decorative (and delicious) cabbage or as complicated as planting new fruit trees.

#4. Tackle at least one outdoor project this year.  This might mean you need to call in a landscaper to set up your new outdoor gathering space.  It may mean you need to get down and dirty on a DIY project.  Whatever the project may be, tackle it this year.

#5. Help your local fauna enjoy your landscape too.  You can plant blossoms that attract butterflies and bees, add a bird bath, install a stream, or much more.

#6. Actually use the compost heap.  Many of us have a compost heap, but we don’t all use it.  Try getting the ratio right and actually using your composted plant material to improve your yard.  Sage attracting a butterfly

#7. Plant more local, Southern California plants.  Try adding natives into your gardening mix.  You might be surprised how easy it is to grow natives and how many local birds and insect life they will attract.

#8. Go to more gardens and on more garden tours.  It’s always great to get inspired by what others are doing with their yards.

Here’s to a bright new year!

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Calling all Bees, Butterflies, and Lady Bugs

If you live in a place like Pismo or Malibu beach, you’re pretty likely to see butterflies throughout the year.  But what about more inland cities like Thousand Oaks, Woodland Hills or Simi Valley?  How do residents get a chance to enjoy gorgeous and beneficial winged insects?  Here are some ideas:Honey Bee Polinating Sage Blossom

Get rid of dead or dying plants

Beneficial insects are attracted to bright, healthy plants that will produce plenty of pollen or nectar, or which haven’t been damaged too thoroughly by harmful insects like aphids.  Make sure to prune back dead foliage, remove dead plants, and find out if your plants that seem to be dying can be saved or if they should be removed.

Plant bright flowers with nectar or pollen in them

Butterflies and bees are attracted to areas where they can feed themselves and their fellows.  Try planting vibrant flowers like: marigold, lavender, blood flower, brown-eyed Susan, echinacea, salvia, yarrow, penstemon, salpiglossis, dahlia, scabiosa, gallardia, zinnia,  aster, butterfly bush, butterfly weed, lantana, bee balm, borage, sunflower, alyssum, lion’s tail, coneflower, and many more. Butterflies

There are also herbs that can be used both to attract pollinators and can be used in the kitchen.  Some of these are: fennel, oregano, garlic chives, sage, mint, mustard greens, and thyme.

Plan your garden

You can attract friendly insects with gardens big and small, but usually there is a reason you wish to attract them.  Maybe you enjoy watching butterflies flutter and bees buzz.  In that case, you’ll want your garden landscaped with areas for you to sit down and watch.  Maybe you’re planting pollinators to help with your tomato plants or a peach tree.  In this case, you’ll want to discuss how best to position the plants that attract beneficial insects so that they buzz on over to the plants that really need pollinating.

Take time to enjoy it all

In this hustle and bustle world, it may be hard to find time to contemplate the flowers or watch the bees and butterflies do their thing.  But make sure to make time to enjoy your yard.  Why else have a gorgeously landscaped space which attracts beautiful little insects?

Here’s to a summer filled with bright blooms and beneficial insects.

 

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Giving your Yard a Natural Feel

Whether your yard is hardscaped or grassy, is on a hillside or an irregular lot, creating a balance between nature and man-made is important.  Here are some ideas for keeping your yard feeling natural – no matter the soil or lot type.

  • Plant flowers and other pretty plants among “useful” plantsMeeting Place

Adding flowers into your vegetable bed attracts more bees and good insects.  Even if your yard is all trees, you can solve a “bare ground” problem by planting flowers along the drip line of your trees.  Additionally, if there is heavy shade that doesn’t let up, plants like ferns can thrive.

  • Use bright pots to decorate bare spaces

If you have a lot of hardscaping, or even just unworkable soil, try planting up colorful pots of flowers and herbs and placing them around your yard.  This softens up the landscape.

Another idea is to add a water feature to the area.  A fountain or pond cools down a hot yard, and can soften the most extreme hardscaping.

  • Plant a “green wall”

One of the “next big things” in the world of landscaping is a green wall.  This is a wall with plants installed within it so they grow off of it.  This is a beautiful statement – and a great sound barrier.

  • Utilize bordersGarden with stone landscaping

Planting up a small border garden with flowers, herbs, fruiting bushes or vegetables make a plain lawn look lush and gorgeous.  These border areas can also attract birds, butterflies and bumble bees to your yard.

  • Hang pots

Hanging pots full of fragrant herbs and flowers can make a stuffy back porch feel cool and beautiful.

Here’s to a great spring and summer, filled with bright blossoms and cool greenery!

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Bees…bees the musical fruit

Last week, I bought some marigolds and sunflowers in order to do some companion planting with my various veggies that will flower and need to be pollinated.  When I told my boyfriend, he said, “I hate bees!”  No, I’m not going to regale you with relationship drama – I laughed at his comment, because that’s how I used to feel before I discovered how rare and valuable these little bugs are.

I read a lot of gardening news, listen to gardening podcasts and all-in-all, last year, there were a ton of people calling/writing in to gardening blogs, podcasts and radio stations complaining that their tomatoes, squash, etc. were flowering, but not fruiting.  The answer to all of these complaints were, “Have you seen many bees in your yard?”  Of course, they hadn’t seen many bees and this meant their plants were not being pollinated.  This means that, to get yummy, garden grown veggies, these poor folks had to go out and hand-pollinate. 

Now, bees are becoming rarer and rarer all around the world.  Pesticides which kill obnoxious bugs are also killing those bugs which help with your garden.  Also, there is something which scientists have yet to isolate which is causing good bees to disappear. 

So, if you have a yard which has things you want to actually fruit (trees, veggies, etc), you need to find ways to attract bees. 

One pretty way to do this is plant companion plants.  These are plants which attract bees, which gives the plants you want pollinated a chance and in some cases they repell bad bugs.  Here are some great companion plants for Southern California:

Nasturtiums, Marigolds, Parsley, Sage, California Poppies, California Wildflowers, Sunflowers, Roses, California Pearly Everlasting, Cream Cups, Desert Mallow, Prickly Pear Cactus, Climbing Snapdragon, Pride Of Madeira, Golden Stars, Mexican Tulip Poppy, Daisies, Matilija Poppy, Wild Hyacinth, Chaparral Pea, and many many more.

Some of these plants spread like wildfire, so it’d be a good idea to consult a professional landscaper before you start planting things willy-nilly.  Also, you should consider planting as native as possible.  My neighbor down the street literally gets big bumble bees and honey bees almost year round with her gorgeous landscape of all native plants.  Walking by her yard is like walking by a perfume shop and the bees are happy as can be.

Here’s to a beautiful, flowering, fruiting and generally buzzing garden!

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