Do You Feel the Garden Maintenance Buzz?

FlyingBee-4

This post leads you through some of the ways my garden is maintained and why. It is a little philosophy, a bit responsibility and a lot of what I want to experience personally. That is it in a nutshell. Oh, and it is unconventional too.

I don’t design gardens this way, but being busy was one of the reasons to adopt this type of “neglectful” maintenance. You can see my garden in a recent post, and it does not look neglected, please read on to see why.

BeeFlight-13

Outside my backdoor there is a lot of flying critters. So many in fact, it is almost dicey to walk outside. I have been baiting the bees and wasps with sugar-water that I discard from the hummingbird feeder. Want to know why? Here are some of the visiting insects. You can almost feel the buzz.

ThreadWaistWasp

Exetastes suaveolens

I have been encouraging the winged warriors to my garden to keep out all chewing insects. The smaller wasps are notorious for laying eggs inside caterpillars and other chewing insects. I like having the bees especially, and I noticed them dining on the sugar-water.

I do have a number of bee friendly plants blooming currently such as: Caryopteris, Agastache, Perovskia, Aster, Nepeta, Scabiosa, Salvia, Solidago, Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Buddleja, Asclepsia, Monarda, and the list goes on.

These are all plants that don’t need much maintenance and are unaffected by most pests. Even the fussy Delphinium, Roses and Lavender are blooming now. Plants are generally pest free, but I can’t say the same for the grasshopper population. This year there is an odd abundance of them.

GrasshopperBuddleja

But why lure more Hymenoptera?

Agastache

I just happened on luring the buzzers in by accident. The hummingbird feeder just loosened, dropping the sugar-water on the boxwood, and by the time I was done cleaning and refilling it to bring back outside, wasps and bees were everywhere.

Large-Metallic-Blue-Wasp-Chlorion aerarium

Chlorion aerarium

Don’t you just love the metallic blue wasps? Amazing nature.

Cuckoo-Wasp

Cuckoo Wasp

Now when taking the feeder down, I have to take it from the wasps and bald-faced hornets. See a real closeup in this post of this hornet. Below they battle each other oblivious to me.

Bald-faced-wasp

Bald-faced Hornet fight

I just nonchalantly and gently removed it and not one insect warned me off. I am also careful not to step on one either.

This gave me another idea. Spray sugar-water on the plants I WANT to photograph. If you see a wet plant and an insect feeding, I probably did this. None is in this post, but it is a great way to entice a photo subject. But be warned…

Yellow-Jacket

I would not say copy this because it really is a danger. I am allergic to bees and have almost been in the hospital from unknowingly disturbing a yellow jacket nest on a job site. They can really make one sick.

Corbiculae-of-Bombus-impatiens-2

Corbiculae of Bombus impatiens

I have had a garden relatively free of chewing pests where plants look healthy and strong. It took a number of years to come to this, but it is worth the wait.

Megachile-pugnata-2

Megachile pugnata

By maintaining a garden free of pesticides and herbicides, and allowing some horticultural leeway, the garden has gotten where it takes care of itself from summer on.

Paper-Wasp-Polistes-fuscatus

Paper Wasp Polistes fuscatus

Now another thing I do at this time of year is let the weeds flower. I like the flowers, but try not to let them seed. A bonus of letting them grow has been the aphids love the weeds and have stayed off my roses and vegetables. I also let the lettuce bolt because aphids like the flowers. Again, it keeps them off other plants having a preference for the lettuce flowers. I found this out by accident too.

And guess what? Wasps eat aphids, caterpillars and flies, making them an important insect eliminating predator. Almost every pest insect is preyed upon by one wasp or another, either for food or as a host for its parasitic larvae. Think about that in your garden for a moment. No need for all those sprays and organic concoctions, just enlist wasps. Especially, don’t spray the wasps.

Yellow-Hawkweed

Here is a hard-working weed. I think it is Yellow Hawkweed, and the aphids adore it. Look at all those new baby aphids!

Aphids

The beauty of growing organically is that I don’t do all the stuff you read about in books or stuff I even learned as a Master Gardener to fertilize plants or combat insects. I just let nature do all of it for me (except the hanging baskets, I do feed them).

I compost and mulch in Spring and don’t worry later on. The real key to all of this neglect, is having your garden heavily planted. The mulched perennials keep a check on weeds, but some do slip through and that is OK. They are barely even noticed until they start flowering, then I make sure they don’t send out prodigy.

Carpenter-Bee

Carpenter Bee

I love the birds and insects that visit, and my garden flowers well all summer with plenty of fussy flowers too. They have just learned to tolerate their less than cultured neighbors. You can see my garden in August in this post, and what plants entice the insects.

Look how close I was to this Yellow Jacket. He was nice to pose for me.

YellowJacketPosing

Like my smile?

I am just hoping you all will support my nomination to The Best Garden Blog Graphics, Photography, and Presentation at the Garden Bloggers Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.Β  Click on the badge below to vote for Garden Walk Garden Talk before September 8th. It will be much appreciated.

olO0y

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About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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60 Responses to Do You Feel the Garden Maintenance Buzz?

  1. Lovely shots!

    I have lots of Bumble Bees and huge Black things that are hiding in my fire pit (old semi tire rim with fire pit from store on top of it. I will wait for a very cold morning to look inside every now and then I see something black flash by me and go inside.

    Saw wasps early summer but all gone now and no yellow jackets of Monarchs as of yet last year I stepped in a ground nest full of them and they covered my legs not good thankfully I was not allergic then πŸ™‚ who knows about now and with no zoom on this Nikon I get as close as I can without pushing the issue

    πŸ™‚

    Enjoy your weekend!

  2. yourothermotherhere says:

    You got my vote!

  3. Heavy planting and mulching with ground leaves is the key to my garden which has hardly needed weeding this summer despite all the rain. I just voted for you, good luck.

  4. Merilee says:

    DONE! You will win. I have spoken. And I love your story, tips and especially your photos. They are simply exquisite. And as a fellow gardener…..thanks for the information! I was wondering why, since I have cultivated a large bee population on my property, there no longer are those icky worms that eat my tomatoes or aphids!

  5. A.M.B. says:

    Your blog definitely deserves the award! It’s a beautiful, inspirational, and informative blog. You manage to make gardening feel “doable,” such as by showing us the wisdom of thoughtful/benign neglect. Also, through your photography, you introduce us to many garden critters who buzz by too quickly for us to appreciate their beauty and the role they play in the natural world. Thank you!

  6. Great lesson on the benefits of gardening within the natural cycle. Is it me or have you really stepped up the quality of your photographs, they are truly stunning. If you are allergic to be stings you need to have an EpiPen in your bag when you garden, and you need learn how to use it. Your doctor can give you practice EpiPens.

  7. Shirley says:

    Good ideas on letting the garden and nature do as much of the work as possible. Beautiful photos and I am glad to have learned a good secret for attracting bees to the camera.

    I voted for you and my favorites in the other categories as well.

  8. HolleyGarden says:

    I never thought to throw the sugar water on the plants to attract the bees, but I’m going to start doing that! Voting for you! πŸ™‚

  9. Feel in sympathy with this kind of gardening. Lots of bees visit my garden but I’d be reluctant to encourage too many wasps. Ants farmed aphids on my red veined sorrel this year. It was interesting to watch them. Either because of that or by coincidence aphids ignored the calendula which they usually like. At this time of year I go into a quandary though – balancing garden hygiene and appearance with leaving seeds for birds and hiding places for insects. Surprised spraying with sugar-water doesn’t encourage mould. Brilliant pictures.

  10. I have to study this in detail as I am really not at all familiar with that part of “maintenance” and whenever I see a few of those creatures I fear they will hurt my plants!! πŸ™‚
    Happy weekend my dear Donna!

      • Thank you so much. I know that aphids are harmful to plants, but the predators usually dispense with them. I used to blast them off with the hose, but now they are not on the roses.

        • I used to blast them off with the hose but I realized that the best way would be to clean carefully with my fingers Sounds horrible but you get more control and it seems to work. Another downside: It takes longer. Also because we hate pesticides, sometimes we sprinkle them with water with a tiny drop of liquid soap – vinegar and alcohol. Does not kill but they don’t like it either. I hope all this doesn’t sound too silly to a pro!! I have mentioned in the past that I know nothing of gardening, I just try to ‘listen’ to my plants!

  11. cindy knoke says:

    I feel it! Great pic!

  12. debsgarden says:

    Great photos! You gave me a lot of ammunition for when my husband starts to spray the wasps. He hates them, though I don’t think he has ever been stung by one. I will tell him he is messing up the eco-system and promoting the aphid population! By the way, I voted for you. Good luck!

    • I so wish people would stop killing the wasps. I know they are not warm and fuzzy like bees, but they do so much good. We have a bee keeper here that will relocate wasps. I always get her for my clients.

  13. I love the first photo of the bee and the last photo of the yellow jacket. Wow!!

  14. CC says:

    hope you win! Love your site!

  15. The beauty of your photos never does cease to amaze me.

  16. Phil Lanoue says:

    Absolutely wonderful images!
    We lost all our potted pentas plants this week when the caterpillers hatched and striped the plants bare in hours.

  17. Pat says:

    Awesome photos. You’ve got my vote!

  18. Eulalia says:

    You got my vote. As always very beautiful pictures πŸ™‚

  19. bittster says:

    These pictures are great and so were the sunflower/bee ones of your last post! Love the photography hints, you really do a nice job of breaking it down, thanks! Also I’m impressed by the insect ID’s…. I surprise myself when I can identify a butterfly, I can’t even begin to think of all the bees and wasps.
    … And my vote is in, good luck!

    • I often get the insects wrong, but then I have readers that correct it for me. Bees especially are hard to differentiate. I have that problem with some birds too, so I started hanging around with the bird watchers. Thanks for the vote.

  20. I voted for you, Donna! I agree on the organic techniques–it’s really not that hard, as we’ve “discussed” before. For many years, I’ve been experimenting with organic ways to repel pests, encourage plant health, and attract pollinators. It’s a rewarding, fun, and healthy hobby!

  21. Yes, Donna, I feel the maintenance buzz as I read this important posting! With your stunning photographs, you make a great case for maintaining a garden free of pesticides and herbicides. You know you have my vote. P. x

  22. Swati Singh says:

    Amazing, never seen such bugs

  23. Harsha says:

    Amazing,with all the shots..

  24. rebecca says:

    I voted πŸ™‚ And reading your low-maintenance tips here, I understood a little better why I have not had to resort to pesticides, etc. Without being intentional, I’ve stumbled into success πŸ™‚

  25. enjoyed the photos!

  26. rogerbrook says:

    I agree with what you say about natural control. I have not used insecticide or fungicide this year outside and only twice on my house plants. My garden is generally pest free with not much of my own contribution although I do use cultural controls- like squashing! Your beautiful pictures show that you must have many beneficial predators and parasites. Not sure I agree with you about letting weeds flower, nor about wasps!. And sorry, I do use glyphosate. I see no evidence of it being detrimental to my butterflies and bees.

    • I am one not to hurt a fly, so I toss slugs (over the fence) rather than squish. The photo of the aphids were the only pests I found, but they would not last long with all the wasps. I just wish there were more ladybugs. I let the few weeds that make it through the mulch flower, but not go to seed. I don’t want to encourage their kind since I don’t use Preen in the garden. I use Roundup on the pavers, but not the garden.

  27. I agree wholeheartedly Donna. I encourage nature and I have few pests…just lots of volunteers and weeds…I still have not gotten to mulching the back beds…my big project once I retire. It will help.

    • I mulch in Spring and every year HATE that job, but it saves a garden season’s work later that I can not complain. I too have been getting more perennials seeding. It is nice where they show up sometimes on their own.

  28. joserasan66 says:

    Mmmmmm, Compartimos El Gusto Por Las Avispas y La Abejas… Tienes Unas FotografΓ­as Muy Bellas.

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