Category Archives: Pollinators

GARDEN REVOLUTION TALK IN SHARON

Ellen Schoenfeld-Beeks Garden Revolution Talk, Sharon

Beautiful historic gardens inspired us in the past. What inspires us to-day? And what does it mean for our backyards and our sense of self? Gardening teaches us to notice, to be patient, but the biggest lessons come when we embrace a new reason to care about what we plant and how we maintain our gardens. Ellen Schoenfeld-Beeks explains at her “Why We Need a Garden Revolution” talk at the Unitarian Church of Sharon on May 3rd. Ellen maintains an extensive mostly-native plant garden at her Sharon home, and also oversees the plantings and Memorial Garden at the church.

If you care about your chickadees, what does this range of numbers mean: 350 to 570? My environmental and social justice pal Ellen Schoenfeld-Beeks let us know at her “Why We Need a Garden Revolution” talk at the Unitarian Church of Sharon, MA on May 3rd. The answer is, 350 to 570 is the number of caterpillars one pair of chickadees needs every day to nurture their chicks from hatching to fledging. That’s just one pair of one kind of bird! Ellen inspired us to think and be mindful about every plant and practice in our gardens, and whether and how each helps or harms the natural systems that support all living things.

Ellen, who manages the church’s extensive gardens, showed examples of native plants at the church’s gardens and at her own home through the seasons, and how they support or harm our native pollinators, wildlife and local ecosystem at large. She even talked about plants she introduced to her gardens on purpose, only to find out years later that they were actually exotic invasive look-alikes of native plants. For example, she thought she was planting yellow marsh marigolds (Caltha palustris), but they turned out to be fig buttercups (Ranunculus ficaria, or, Ficaria verna), which are on the MA list of plants that are prohibited from sale.

After about three years they had spread like a spring carpet of yellow, in part because they aggressively reproduce by three different mechanisms. Once she realized her error, Ellen  took responsibility and removed them by hand, an intensive but organic gardening practice. It took three seasons to bring their numbers to a reasonably manageable level.

Ellen also reminded us that one of the Unitarian Universalist Church’s guiding principles is respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. She urged us to think carefully and learn about the impact of each of our plantings, as every plant in our landscapes matters, and your landscape supports, or doesn’t, those chickadees who need all those caterpillars every day to raise their young.

The design of her home garden, also in Sharon, features primarily native plants with mowed and gravel paths that sweep around her layered ornamental planting beds and stone walls, leaving the visitor wondering with curiosity what lies just past the next curve. Each of her beds have themed names, such as Mountain Laurel Hill, the Meadow and Old Rose Garden. Some of her favorite native plants are mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia – obviously – with an area named just for them; apothecary rose, Rosa gallica, which though not a native has been cultivated by people since the MIddle Ages; and various goldenrods, which support at least 115 species of butterflies and moths.

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GROW NATIVE MA ANNUAL PLANT SALE – JOIN ME JUNE 1st!

Help Massachusetts communities and wildlife thrive by joining me at the annual Grow Native Massachusetts Plant Sale. You’ll find over 2,000 plants covering 120 varieties, and I (and other experts) can help you make smart selections for the particular conditions of your planting area. Just look for me in a blue volunteer apron from 8-11. Shop early for best selection.

From 9-2:30 at the UMass Waltham Field Station at 240 Beaver Street, Waltham 02452, you may find:

  • Perennials sorted by sun, shade and part-shade, and all types of soil conditions
  • A large selection of evergreen and deciduous ferns
  • Grasses and sedges, both cool and warm season
  • Trees and shrubs at small sizes so you can take home in your car. Native trees and shrubs do the most to increase biodiversity and to enhance the wildlife value of your landscapes.

AND new for this year: sweet goldenrod (Solidago odora), bluestem goldenrod (Solidago caesia) and spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata)—custom grown just for this sale, as these are top native herbaceous plants for supporting the entire life cycles of our butterfly and moth pollinator friends, and a whole lot of bees’, too.

All plants are native to the eastern United States—the majority indigenous to New England

Learn more: https://www.grownativemass.org/programs/plantsale
Download a list of the species available at the 2019 Native Plant Sale

 

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DAYLILY DIVING SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY

Female eastern swallowtail butterfly taking nectar from a daylily in Worcester, Vt

An eastern north america native female eastern tiger swallowtail butterrfly, Papilio glaucus, crawls deep into the flower cone of a daylily to drink nectar at a friend’s garden in Worcester, VT.

How fun to watch a swallowtail butterfly dive into a daylily for a drink of sweet nectar. On the way in its wings became streaked with pollen, which the butterfly then took to and pollinated a neighboring daylily in seeking more nectar.

No daylily is native to North America as thus their value to native pollinators is limited to providing food rather than providing food, ideal egg-laying sites and food for their caterpillars that would support this butterfly species’ entire life cycle. Most native butterlies and moths have just one type of plant that is the host plant for their entire life cycle.

Native plants support not just native butterflies, but also all living things in native ecosystems, including humans, which is just one reason to have a diversity of native plants on your property or property that you manage or care for.

While daylilies have good horticultural value as colorful flowers, native plants have both horticultural and ecological value in the landscape. There are many fine native plant substitutes for non-native plants, and I encourage you to explore the possibilities before investing in non-native plants that could take the place of high-performing native plants.

 

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GROW NATIVE MA HOSTS INTERNATIONAL AWARD WINNING LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT MATTHEW CUNNINGHAM

Landscape architect Matthew Cunningham presented at Evenings with Experts, co-sponsored by Grow Native Massachusetts and the Boston Society of Landscape Architects.

International award winning landscape architect Matthew Cunningham presented at Evenings with Experts, on April 4th. Co-sponsored by Grow Native Massachusetts and the Boston Society of Landscape Architects, his design bring a sense of nature to his clients’ homes, creating a sense of privacy and wildness through the use of hard-working, beautiful native plants.

Last night, international award winning landscape architect Matthew Cunningham presented Revealing a Sense of Place at Grow Native Massachusetts’ Evenings with Experts talk at the Cambridge Public Library. The humble, approachable Matthew presented before-and-after profiles of several design projects he’s taken on, from a rocky, tide-swept cove in Maine to suburban West Newton and Brookline. In all cases, he borrowed concepts from nature, incorporating native plant communities into his designs, creating a sense of privacy and wildness for his clients.

The most thrilling part for me was his satellite photo of Cambridge, MA pointing out his first client there. The next slide showed that the neighbors have caught on, and now his clients are dotted all over town, creating a growing quilt of properties that support wildlife and pollinators, manage and filter rain water, and provide numerous other ecosystem services that only native plants can provide…including services for clients who disdain tree huggers and care primarily for aesthetics.

Keeping up with the Joneses now means people are investing in native plants, and it turns out that native plants don’t make a mess in your yard. They actually create a robust landscape system that hums on its own. This is the kind of news that inspires and delights me, and we could all use good news these days.

 

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HOW TO DESIGN YOUR GARDEN FOR WINTER INTEREST

Border at The Winter Garden, Bressingham Gardens, Norfolk, UK.

How to design your landscape for winter interest? Here are a few concepts and suggestions. A professional designer can select the best plant materials for your site and especially, your lifestyle.

  • first, consider your outdoor lifestyle and circulation around your property
  • anchor your landscape design with evergreens that contrast one another in shape, size and color (in addition to needled and broadleaf)
  • add deciduous shrubs with striking twig colors
  • add a few grasses and perennials for flavor
  • as always, make sure all your plant selections will thrive in the existing cultural conditions of your particular planting area (sun, soil, water, wind, drainage, etc.).
  • native trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses often do best in our area, as well as being the best choices for supporting pollinators
Bressingham Gardens' design pop with color in winter.

Designed for color and contrast, Bressingham Gardens pop with vibrancy in winter.

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IS IT TOO LATE TO PLANT…IN THE SNOW?

What am I doing planting in the snow? After a robust season of gardening for others, I’m still catching up with my own home gardening by getting inkberry in the ground before the earth freezes up for good.

Inkberry (Ilex glabra) is a New England native plant that supports pollinators and other wildlife. In the holly family, these particular female Ilex glabra shrubs have nice dark berries that birds love. The red berries? This is a female winterberry, another native shrub in the holly family (Ilex verticillata), especially important to birds migrating in the spring.

Since I’m planting so late here in North Easton, I’ll apply about two gallons of water, delivered in small gulps, then cover the planting area with a thick but fluffy layer of leaves for insulation for the winter. Until the ground freezes, they’ll need about an inch of water every week, so I’ll continue watering as needed.

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September Sunflowers at Easton’s Langwater Farm

Cultivating tractor and sunflower at the Langwater Farm farmstand

Summer has past and sunflowers thrive in early fall at Easton’s Langwater Farm. Not only are sunflowers a top farm stand seller, they’re also a top pollinator host plant and provide food for our native insects, birds and mammals. Look closely and you’ll see raindrops on the sunflower petals. Langwater Farm is always a colorful spot, even on a cloudy rainy day.

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Sharon Garden Club Flyer for September Garden Medley event

Sharon Garden Club Fall Fair – Save the Date – Sept 9

Hints of fall are in the air, and the Sharon Garden Club is celebrating on September 9th with our September Garden Medley fundraiser. Join us from 11-4 to explore the learning and fun at our two locations :

  • a horticultural guided garden tour (70 Maskwonicut Street, Sharon)
  • a Standard Flower Show (62 Bullard Street, Sharon)
  • an elegant boxed lunch in the garden (70 Maskwonicut Street, Sharon)
  • a garden shoppe (70 Maskwonicut Street, Sharon)
  • live folk music (70 Maskwonicut Street, Sharon)
  • artists at work (70 Maskwonicut Street, Sharon)
  • unique raffle items (70 Maskwonicut Street, Sharon)

TICKETS are $30 in advance, $35 the day of the event. Get tickets from me (617-327-9254 or carol@garden-911.com) or lizsiem@comcast.net.

You’ll probably find me in a stall at the barn at 70 Maskwonicut Street, the stall converted into an art exhibit for pollinator-friendly plants and a jail for nasty butterfly-killing invasive ones. WANTED: native pollinator plants, alive; WANTED: dead invasive plants.

 

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Hardworking Honey Bees in Porter Square

European honey bee harvests nectar from Helenium

European honey bee harvests nectar from Helenium flower in Cambridge, MA garden, while perhaps unwittingly captures pollen and moves it to other flowers for pollination. Image copyright 2017 Carol Lundeen.  All rights reserved.

What a delight to be gardening in Cambridge and have hardworking European honey bees show up in their pollinator hats. Who keeps the bees, what’s the history of the queens, and who most enjoys the honey? I want to meet these people and the hives and learn their story. Ah, I’m so lucky to have clients who appreciate these little wonders of the world.

 

 

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