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.
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.
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.
But why lure more Hymenoptera?
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.
Don’t you just love the metallic blue wasps? Amazing nature.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is a hard-working weed. I think it is Yellow Hawkweed, and the aphids adore it. Look at all those new baby 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.
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.
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. Click on the badge below to vote for Garden Walk Garden Talk before September 8th. It will be much appreciated.