I’m having another look at my flower garden. Last year I did manage to get a well-managed cutting garden. To be honest I mean ‘well-managed’ quite loosely. I kept the weeds down, feed and watered regularly and even did a spot of dead heading from time to time. I even cut a few flowers and brought them inside. I still find it hard to make the cut because they do look very pretty and the bees love them. So how can I deny the bees what they need over my simple pleasures.
In the vegetable garden there are very few plants that come back year after year. There are the globe artichokes, rhubarb, strawberries and the asparagus, but most are annuals and all I need to do is grow them, harvest them and eat them and in some cases, toss their tired carcasses onto the compost pile. Flowers are different and aren’t so straight forward.
I have discovered on my journey with flowers that some actually like to come back again. Last year I resowed dahlias, despite having them grow successfully from seed the previous year and now when clearing away the bed I found great pendulous tubers in the soil where my flowers once were. I was quite surprised how big they became in one season. So now they are there I guess they can stay and fortunately they are on my plan where I’d prefer them to be.
Unlike the gypsophila and the aquilegia. I was so disappointed last season when my gypsophila seeds didn’t germinate and popped some scabious in their place, only to find my scabious never did very well because the gypsophila was determined to come back, bigger and better than ever before. Unfortunately, it isn’t where I wanted it on the plan. The aquilegia are also stubbornly clinging to a spot that they should have moved from last year, but seemed to have claimed squatters rights. The straw flowers should be living there but are now of no fixed abode.
And don’t get me started on the nigella – they have pretty much gone feral and self-seeded themselves all over the place. My carefully laid plans have gone to pot. Flowers may look all sweet and innocent, but they’re not. They are a nightmare unruly bunch who need way more care and attention than the obedient vegetables.
But I’m not going to give up. They are lovely to look at and the bees love them. In fact I’m going to throw a caution to the wind and grow even more. I have received a very special packet of Wildflower Mix seeds for Bees and Butterflies as part of a national PLAN BEE program to celebrate September as Bee Awareness Month. I’ve sown my seeds in a seed tray in the greenhouse, although the seed packet does say it is easy to sow them directly, but I don’t know where I am going to put them in the garden yet. Then I’ll register my garden as a bee-friendly spot on the Plan Bee Map and do my bit to make it easy for bees to thrive in New Zealand.
I also took part in the Great Kiwi Bee Count with Plant and Food Research and the NZ Gardener and during a two minute period I saw two honey bees and a drone fly cling tenaciously to the yellow flowers of a broccoli in a rather stiff breeze. I would like to say I let it go to flower intentionally for the bees, but the silly thing went from being almost edible to past it during a weekend I was away and I was so cross I left it there. And in hindsight I’m glad I did because there is always somebody buzzing around it filling its pockets with bright yellow pollen. If you are in New Zealand you should give it a go – www.stuff.co.nz/GreatKiwiBeeCount. It isn’t difficult at all and we should all do our bit to help out the bees. We need them more than they need us!
Come again soon – the seeds are metamorphosing to seedlings and my greenhouse is filling with shades of green.
Sarah the Gardener : o)