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.
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, 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.
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 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. See my latest garden posts.
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. Sure there are weeds, i just make sure they don’t go to seed.
The weeds flower. I like the flowers, but not the seeding. 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, 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 potted plants, I do feed them).
I mulch (with compost every year) 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. I am away this August, so no photos in 2016.
Look how close I was to this Yellow Jacket. He was nice to pose for me.