Feeling the Garden Maintenance Buzz Yet?

FlyingBee-4This 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.

BeeFlight-13Outside 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, 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.

GrasshopperBuddlejaBut why lure more Hymenoptera?

AgastacheI 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 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. See my latest garden posts.

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. Sure there are weeds, i just make sure they don’t go to seed.

Paper-Wasp-Polistes-fuscatus

Paper Wasp Polistes fuscatus

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.

Yellow-Hawkweed

Here is a hard-working weed, 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 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.

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. 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.

YellowJacketPosing

Like my smile?

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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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29 Responses to Feeling the Garden Maintenance Buzz Yet?

  1. dodgeblue says:

    Donna, love the organic, essentially wildscaping that you’re doing. But while I commend the bee habitat, I think accepting some plant chewing and allowing caterpillars to turn to butterflies would be even more ecological. Just my thoughts.

  2. Great post! Love all the buzzy helpers in the garden too! 🐝🐝🐝

  3. Those are good tips, and your photos are amazing! I mulched well around my perennials and it helped to keep the weeds down.

    • Mulch is so beneficial, especially in this dry year. This post was scheduled and I did not realize it would post during my trip. I hear that we had a few brutally hot and dry weeks in WNY. I bet my garden needs a long drink when I get home.

  4. Rose says:

    Donna, I practice many of the same methods as you do, but I didn’t realize the benefits of what I was doing–thanks for giving me some great reasons to continue! It’s interesting that you depend on only mulch and compost rather than fertilizing. An expert gardener I know, whose garden was on our Garden Walk this year, said she did the same thing, and her garden looks like a mini-botanic garden. Fantastic photos of all these winged visitors!

    • Thank you Rose. I stopped fertilizing with commercial fertilizer years ago. I do use natural additives like blood and fish meal when I get it. I am not very consistent on any of that besides the compost though.

  5. swo8 says:

    My lettuce has bolted too but wasn’t aware of the benefits. Great ideas for the garden Donna. Everything is getting a little burnt out here in our neck of the woods.
    Leslie

  6. rogerbrook says:

    Fantastic pictures of your hymenopteran helpers Donna
    You have a great gardening philosophy but I not sure about relaxing on the weeds. Having said that if a plant is doing a worthwhile job it is not a weed. Some of my own plants others would regard as weeds!

    • Thanks Roger. Good point on weeds. I do know they have great benefits to wildlife, but I don’t go out of my way to let them live in the garden. Some slip in and the blooms are pretty, but they get snipped quickly. I even make floral arrangements out of some of them. Queen Anne’s Lace and asters are very pretty.

      • rogerbrook says:

        On further reflexion I remembered I do leave certain ‘weeds’ on my vegetable garden in the Winter – those that are not going to seed for several months and also leave plants as my own version of green manure. I feel inspired to write about in in a blogpost. But don’t hold your breath I have about a month time lag!
        Great to read that you have just been to the UK. You should have come to York!

        • I was in York for three days. Been busy touring the whole country. I took so many photos, but am waiting to get them on my computer before a post. Funny thing, I am not sure what to write about. Don’t want to just talk about Stonehenge since many have seen it. I was more interested in the meadow of sheep right around the monument. It sits in such a beautiful location.

  7. Great pictures and very interesting strategy. Now that our kids are older, all those bees might be a good way to control the garden!

  8. Bill Thompson says:

    Hi Donna, hope your health is holding up, you sound quite busy! I’m interested in what lens you use on your Nikon. Depth of field is very good at these close-ups thanks, Bill

    • I have been busy with travel this year. I have not written about my PA visit to all the beautiful gardens there for instance. I was just at Kew and am not sure about a post there even. I was a little disappointed when comparing it to arboretums and private gardens in PA. It seemed to have much more lawn per acre than many other gardens I have visited, even Biltmore. My health is OK for the moment although many more things have gone wrong. I have doctors for many parts of me now, some degenerative conditions caused by my heart problems. I am trying to get in traveling before I no longer can be able to travel.

  9. bittster says:

    As usual some amazing insect photos! The variety of bees and wasps which will show up in the garden is amazing but some of their life cycles are a bit unappealing. The whole parasitizing thing for one…
    Hope you’re enjoying your trip!

  10. David says:

    Really wonderful photos and stories. I wish I had the time to write what’s happened this year with my very first garden that I started from scratch, even more I wish I had taken pictures along the way. The objective was to get some flowers in my yard so that I didn’t always have to walk or drive somewhere to take photos of flowers and insects. At least I’m covering that part and will be sharing those photos.

  11. Annette says:

    Fab pics as always, Donna! I love my little helpers too and let my garden go a little wild to make it a more inviting place and with success (well, we’re surrounded by wilderness anyway!). It’s absolutely amazing what you can spot when you go around with your eyes wide open.

    • Thank you, Annette. You are so fortunate to be surrounded by nature. Just seeing Scotland and Wales, I was so impressed by the glorious and different landscapes. It seemed like a paradise for birds and insects, yet I did not see many. I did see a lot of Ravens, Crows and pigeons though. What I did not see was the English Robin.

      • Annette says:

        glad you liked it, Donna, strange you didn’t meet a robin as they’re so common in UK gardens. here we have different wildlife again – maybe you’ll come to this corner of the world next time?

  12. debsgarden says:

    Your garden is a wonderful testimony to the balance of nature. Gardeners (or non-gardeners) really create so many problems themselves, then think the answer is a container of chemicals. The most beautiful gardens are often organic, well-maintained ones that are loud with buzzing bees and chirping birds. Yours is an excellent example!

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