Bee watching

 

 

Mario my famous cat and gardening companion.
Mario my famous cat and gardening companion.

 

The miracle of life lies out there teeming in the dark rich earth. I can feel it.  I can sense it and it is a wondrous thing.  No matter how many times I see a tiny sprout emerge from the soil I  am awestruck at such beautiful complexity inhibiting such lovely simplicity. Everything has it’s place, it’s purpose. Exquisite harmony and balance reins supreme…or at least it used to.

I have spent much of my 44 summers enthralled in the wilds of an urban garden; laying in the grass staring up at the imaginative clouds, cavorting with the butterflies and communing with the bees. As a young girl I felt a kinship with nature that has only intensified with age.  I feel in tune with the earth and with all living things and I have always had a special affinity for the natural world and all the beautiful shapes and colors of life on our amazing planet. 

It has been only natural for me to embrace gardening as one of my passionate pastimes.

As an adult I have spent countless hours in glorious toil in the backyard sun, digging and planting and weeding and planning. I have transformed a weedy double lot into what I refer to as my sanctuary, my retreat from the artificial inside.  I feel safe there and so do many of the urban wildlife that visit.  The neighborhood cats especially like it here and it isn’t uncommon for me to have a clan of disinterested felines “cheering me on”.

I am a great observer. It is another one of my pastimes; watching and observing and drawing conclusions….and I am a great watcher of the earth and I don’t have to tell you how sick it is. 

How sick our mother is. Our planet Earth. Our only home is ill. She is dying. The signs are all around. Some people don’t want you to believe that because they are more interested in the status quo but if we don’t change our ways there will be no status at all. 

It seems so far away; all this unbalance, this poison that eats away.  It is all around us, in our plastics and pesticides, in our gas- guzzling machines and in our diet colas. It hasn’t hit most of us yet…not really, but can you hear the rumblings? I can. I do as I sit in my garden; my sanctuary.

California Poppy in June Credit: N.L. McKinley
California Poppy in June Credit: N.L. McKinley

I sit in a prime spot next to a huge swath of brightly colored California poppies. They are one of the stars of the garden at this time of year and a favorite among the bees, including my favorite, the honey bee. I remember a time when they would be in beautiful abundance; busily buzzing from one flower to the next. I have noticed them slowly start to vanish…little by little; just a trickle at first but now it grows more obvious every year. My eyes scan the flowers and I only see a clumsy black bumble. I patiently wait…I don’t see a honeybee. I scan the grass at the clover I allow to grow, still no honeybee. The sun is out on an 80 degree day in June and where are they?

 

 Ahhh there’s one.  One honeybee and two bumbles…

 

 

Honeybee in June by N.L McKinley
Honeybee in June by N.L McKinley

 

Bumble Bee in June accompanied by Orange Poppy. Credit: N.L. McKinley
Bumble Bee in June accompanied by Orange Poppy. Credit: N.L. McKinley

Perhaps it is still to early for them…perhaps I didn’t wait long enough…I will go out and look tomorrow for another one…

California Poppy in June Credit: N.L. McKinley
California Poppy in June Credit: N.L. McKinley

 

 

More stuff to ponder…

Just me Nancy reporting from the urban wilds of my backyard…SMILE!  Have a good one and remember what our friend Anne Frank said:

 

“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” 
― Anne Frank

 

Sometimes that is all we can do…

(And one more thing: please no more pesticides. I know YOU don’t use them but for anyone who may. Please as a personal favor for me…stop.)

Nancy

 

“The natural world belongs to us all and it is vanishing at an alarming rate. We the people of this planet have a responsibility to the generations that come after us. I believe we gardeners have a special and vital role to play in the protection of our dwindling natural assets.”

 

~N.L.  McKinley

 

bee gif flying

 

 

 Related Sound and Natural Tunes

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Marvin Gaye – Mercy Mercy me
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Counting Crows – Big Yellow Taxi ft. Vanessa Carlton
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Blind Melon – No Rain
Optimistic Sunflower and Bee. Credit N.L McKinley
Optimistic Sunflower and Bee. Credit N.L McKinley

 

Related Articles and Items of interest

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SAVE THE BEES (strawberryindigo.wordpress.com)

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List of crop plants pollinated by bees (Wikipedia)

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Mass bee die-offs reported in Portland area (Statesmanjournal.com)

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A Disastrous Year for Bees: ‘We Can’t Keep Them Alive’ (New York Times on You Tube)

.

Feds aim to save declining honeybee (pressherald.com)

 

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Wild Sanctuary

Ruby-throated hummingbird public domain USFWAImage via Wikipedia

This morning I was rewarded with a moment lovely in its simplicity and rich in the beauty of life.  I watched for several minutes a Ruby throated hummingbird darting in and out of the pineapple sage. It’s tiny wings flapping at amazing speed, visiting each colorful stalk, drinking in the nectar of the brilliant scarlet flowers.  Hummingbirds are some of my favorite garden visitors.  These last days of October are a flurry of activity by humans as well as our animal friends in the wild and the not so wild.

I spent much of this beautiful day in the garden.  I find peace here working with Mother Nature.  I feel part of a greater whole that fills me with a calm serenity that is electric and full of life.

That is my garden to me.  I call it my sanctuary and it truly is.  I share my sanctuary with a few humans but mostly I share it with a cornucopia of lifeforms, from the smallest microbe in the soil to the squirrels and the birds and butterflies.  This place is truly alive.

I have spent the better part of a decade planting and shaping this place.  I have made my share of mistakes but I have learned from them. It is much easier in the long run to work with nature than against it.  Some believe that when a gardener welcomes wildlife into the garden, he or she is asking for troublesome pests as well as pretty butterflies. This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Nature exists in balance, Mother Nature provides to all; predator and prey.  A garden in balance is in harmony with all.  By working with nature we reap many benefits and so do the wild lifeforms that visit our yards.  There is much we can do and every little bit helps.

My garden is teeming with life and it is by no accident.  My obsession with plants is deep and true. I must have hundreds upon hundreds of types and kinds that spring up throughout the year.  Many are native plants to my region which is the Pacific Northwest. Many are flowers that are appealing to bees and insects and nectar rich providing food for hummingbirds and others.

I see it as my mission as a gardener, as a lover of the land and nature to do my small part in helping the flora and fauna of our fantastic planet.  In this I feel that my garden is not only a sanctuary to me but to many.  Urban gardens can provide a refuge for many species that have been forced out of their natural habitats.  Our wild areas are vanishing  and we gardeners have a huge role to play.  Our urban and not so urban gardens link up making a larger habitat for wildlife.

No space is too small.  A potted plant on a back patio or a window box planted with the right plant can provide food all year.

No effort is too small.  There are many ways to help. It can be as easy or as complicated as you choose.  Typically wildlife have three basic needs, the essentials;  shelter, water and food.

Three Essentials For Wildlife

Shelter

   A large Evergreen shrub can provide shelter for many species as can other types of plant life such as climbers.  A pile of logs or rocks can serve as shelter to many ground dwelling species. Leave a bit of leaf litter on the ground to protect overwintering insects.  Simply leaving a wild corner of the yard can help.

Water

Water is essential for all life but it can become a scarce commodity for wildlife in the city. A pond or bird bath can spell welcome relief for the thirsty. A plastic plant saucer with a few stones on the bottom filled with clean water could be a lifeline for many.

Food

Use plants native to your particular region.  Create biodiversity with as many varieties as possible. There are a number of plant species that provide food for wildlife.  From nectar to pollen to seeds and berries.  Once a flower has bloomed, typically gardeners remove the spent seedhead.  This also removes a valuable winter food source for birds. A bit of untidiness in the garden is no crime, in fact a more natural appearance can be quite comely and you will be rewarded time and time again with the wonder of nature beckoning at your back door.

Butterfly
Image by Travelling Steve via Flickr

Happy Gardening!

Strawberryindigo.

                

References and suggested reading

  • Planthropology: The myth, mysteries, and miracles of my garden favorites.  Ken Druse ©2008.
  • Create a wildlife garden. Christine and Michael Lavelle ©2007
  • Attracting birds, butterflies and other winged wonders to your backyard. Kris Wetherbee ©2004