Friday, April 05, 2013

Beautiful Buffet for Bees, Butterflies, and Birds

I mentioned in my last post how our yard isn't really grass, but more of a bunch of weeds. I didn't care if it was grass or weeds, so long as it was green.

And green it was, soon as the weather warmed up enough. It'd turn green, and grow half an inch, and I'd have J out there mowing it. It looked too "raggedy" otherwise.

Back in January and February, we had some nice weather days, and the yard started getting "thick". I remember telling J he needed to cut the yard, but ended up he couldn't because we hadn't gotten out there yet and picked up all the sticks, limbs, and branches that the trees had dumped over the Winter and during a couple windy stormy days we'd had.

March wasn't a very good weather month at all. I remember him coming in from work one morning and saying we were going to get out in the yard and pick up limbs, but I looked at my desktop thermometer and it said it was 34* outside. I said, yeah, that ain't happening.

So, the yard grew more than we usually like for it to. I look out my kitchen window and think, gah, that looks bad, we need to cut it.

Besides Clover and a big tangle-gangle of other weeds we don't know the name of, we noticed these purple-ish-colored funny-looking things growing in abundance all over the yard. J was curious as to what they were called so I googled and learned they're called Purple Deadnettle.
I didn't even notice until I googled it that there are tee-niney little flowers in these "weeds", which really aren't a weed at all, but an herb related to the Mint family. You can actually eat it in salads and cook with it and make a tea., but I read that these are an important source of protein for Bees which can be hard for them to find this early in the season, so we decided we'd just live with the growed up yard for awhile, for the Bees.

I also noticed several days ago a very lovely white flower growing in bunches down by the garden near the back fence.

Not long after that I saw a post on my Facebook wall from Georgia Gardener that these are called Star of Bethlehem, and was really surprised to find out that people consider them a nuisance weed and want to know how to get rid of them!

The past couple of days have been dreary, chilly, rainy, not very nice at all, but today is sunny and warm and gorgeous. I went out on the back porch to enjoy it a little while and was surprised and pleased with what I see all around my back yard:

A profusion of beautiful Star of Bethlehem flowers, (and, you can't see it, but one of my blueberry bushes has some blooms)

There are some purple Violets growing wild along with some of the SoB's,

Yellow (Buttercups?), so delicate and pretty,

A large patch of Grape Hyacinth, mixed in with some kind of tiny, lovely little blue flowers (Creeping Speedwell?).

Make a wish! What a dandy Dandelion!

Some pink/purple-ish blooms,  (the little black spot on the right side of the petal is a bug. There were two of them looked to be playing Tag...or, mmm, a more adult type game...)

Resembles a Daisy, the inner yellow part is daisy-like, but the white petals surrounding are almost hair-thin. The thicker, fuzzy stems don't appear to be Daisy-ish though.

The one thing I didn't see much of was Bees. I'm hoping it's still just a bit too early/chilly for them yet. I spotted this guy (or gal) but I don't know what kind of Bee it is, if it's a Honey Bee or not.

Some time ago I read one of those emails people send around that I really liked but can't seem to find again....n'ermind, I found it (I always do after I say I can't)...Check it out, it's awesome:

Imagine the conversation The Creator might have with St. Francis about this:

"Frank you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracted butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles."

"It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great extent to kill them and replace them with grass."

"Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?"

"Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn."

"The spring rains and cool weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy."

"Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it _ sometimes twice a week."

"They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?"

"Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags."

"They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?"

"No, sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away."

"Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?"

"Yes, sir."

"These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work."

"You aren't going believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it."

"What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life."

"You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and have them hauled away."

"No! What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and keep the soil moist and loose?"

"After throwing away your leaves, they go out and buy something they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves."

"And where do they get this mulch?"

"They cut down trees and grind them up."

"Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. Saint Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?"

"Dumb and Dumber, Lord. It's a real stupid movie about..."

"Never mind I think I just heard the whole story."


Jodi said...

Gah! I love your "conversation" at the end of this post! Perfect. To be honest I never quite understand wanting the "golf course" lawn myself.

We too have a TON of Purple Deadnette this year. More than I recall in past years. My daughter is delighted. "Aren't they beautiful Mommy! Look at all our flowers!"

And yes, we've seen honeybees on them quite a bit as well.

Thanks for sharing!

Melissa said...

I loved that conversation when I first read it, but for some (air-head) reason I was thinking like fields or pastures when I read about the flowers-called-weeds, rather than my own yard.
We did, however, stop raking leaves to burn them and started chopping/mulching them up on the yard before putting the mower away for the Winter.

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