Naturally, Helen Yoest
Pollinators will find what they need, no matter what; yes, even shade-loving plants have a pollinator.
The first thing to consider in selecting plants for shade is knowing the type of shade you have. Here’s is a Bee Better Naturally post that will help with this.
Remember, too, there is a lot of overlap. Don’t get too worried if your area is part sun or part shade. Measure the amount so you know for sure! Also, when is it shady. Morning sun is kinder than afternoon sun.
Here’s something to note for shade gardens. Have you ever noticed carpenter bees flying up against the windows of your house or hovering around dark holes in the lawn? Generally speaking, carpenter bees prefer to nest in shady areas. Find a location away from your home for nesting bees. Build a wood pile somewhere in a shady spot; it can even be in a less visible area. A wood pile is also shelter for a wide number of species including, snakes, lizards, chipmunks, and insects for birds to feed.
PARTIAL SUN / PARTIAL SHADE: These two terms are often interchangeable to mean 3-6 hours of sunlight each day. While the terms are interchangeable, there is a default understanding.
Partial shade typically refers to morning and early afternoon sun, while a plant listed as partial sun, relief from the intense late afternoon sun is needed. This shade could be from a structure or the shade from an old oak tree.
Lily of the Valley, Convallaria majalis
Jewelweed, Impatiens balsamina
Money plant, Lunaria annua
Campanula, Campanula americana
Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis
Blue mist flower, Conoclinium coelestinum
Early meadow-rue, Thalictrum dioicum
Joe-pye weed, Eutrochium purpureum
Cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis
Downy skullcap, Scutellaria incana
Meadowsweet, Thalictrum dioicum
Turk's Cap, Lilium superbum
Snakeroot, Ageratina altissima
Broadleaf goldenrod, Solidago flexicaulis
Toad Lily, Tricyrtis hirta
Lawn Violets, Viola spp.
Wild geranium, Geranium maculatum
Glossy abelia, Abelia x grandiflora
Red chokeberry, Aronia arbutifolia
Common sweetshrub, Calycanthus floridus
Summersweet, Clethra alnifolia
Cornelian cherry dogwood, Cornus mas
Red twig dogwood, Cornus sericea
Winter hazel, Corylopsis pauciflora
American Hazelnut, Corylus americana
Daphne, Daphne spp.
Paperbush, Edgeworthia chrysantha
Dwarf fothergilla, Fothergilla gardenii
Common Witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana
Oakleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia
St. Johnswort, Hypericum calycinum
American holly, Ilex opaca
Virginia sweetspire, Itea virginica
Mountain Laurel, Kalmia latifolia
Leucothoe, Leucothoe axillaris
Northern bayberry, Myrica pensylvanica
Mock orange, Philadelphus spp.
Rhododendron, Rhododendron spp.
Fragrant sumac, Rhus aromatica
Tree Peony, Paeonia suffruticosa
Viburnum, Mapleleaf, Viburnum acerifolium
Viburnum, Arrowwood, Viburnum dentatum
Blackhaw, Viburnum prunifolium
Japanese maple, Acer palmatum
Red maple, Acer rubrum
Red buckeye, Aesculus pavia
Serviceberry, Amelanchier canadensis
Pawpaw, Asimina triloba
Flowering dogwood, Cornus florida
Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis
White fringe tree, Chionanthus virginicus
Carolina silverbell, Halesia tetraptera
Persimmion, Diospyros virginiana
Sweetbay magnolia, Magnolia virginiana
Sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum
Staghorn sumac, Rhus typhina
Bishop’s weed, Aegopodium podagraria
Plumbago, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
Crossvine, Bignonia capreolata 'Tangerine Beauty’
Trumpet vine, Campsis radicans
DAPPLED SUN: Dappled sunlight is my favorite kind of sun, if I had to choose. Dapple sun is similar to partial shade. The plants are getting partial sun as it makes it’s way through the branches of a deciduous tree. Woodland plants and under plantings, even for many mosses, prefer dappled sunlight more so than partial shade.
Bulbs--under deciduous trees, providing a shady spot when they are in bloom.
Crocus, Crocus vernus
FULL SHADE: Full shade means less than 3 hours of direct sunlight each day, best if it’s morning light. But even in the absence of direct sunlight, full shade can be a bright light. Plus, full shade likes a filtered sunlight the remainder of the day. Every plant needs some sun; even those that thrive in full shade.
Virginia Bluebells, Mertensia virginica
Pigsqueak, Bergenia cordifolia
Hostas, Hosta plantaginea
Lungwort 'Lewis Palmer’, Pulmonaria 'Lewis Palmer’
White Wood Asters, Eurybia divaricata
Sweet box, Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis
American hornbeam, Carpinus caroliniana
Mahonia, Mahonia japonica
Climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris
Blue Cohosh, Caulophyllum thalictroides
Bugleweed, Ajuga reptans
Wild Ginger, Asarum canadense
Astilbe, Astilbe species and cultivars
Lenten rose, Helleborus orientalis
Coral bells, Heuchera species and hybrids
Foamy bells, Heucherella hybrids
Russian arborvitae, Microbiota decussata
Mondo grass, Ophiopogon japonicus
Foam flower, Tiarella cordifolia
Hypertufa troughs are an earthy and natural container that goes with every garden style. Modeled after ancient stone troughs that were once used to hold water and feed for livestock in England and the Orient; later they were repurposed into planters.
The look of these troughs as containers became very popular. When there weren’t enough to go around, or as they became too pricey, people began to make their own.
A worthy container in their own right, hypertufa troughs should not be considered a poor substitute to the real thing—they are the perfect planter and will provide many years of good-looking service.
Beth Jimenez and Amelia Lane of Lasting Impressions in Raleigh share their recipe for making a hypertufa trough. Once you learn how easy they are to make, you’ll want to make a grouping of several containers.
STEP 1– GATHER MATERIALS
Here’s what you’ll need:
• One sheet of 2-inch-thick foam insulation board cut into two pieces 16×6-inches and two pieces 18×6-inches.
• Serrated knife
• Eight 3-¼ inch nails
• Duct tape
• Tape measure or ruler
• QUIKRETE Portland cement (No.1124)
• Peat moss
• ½-inch dowel approximately 6-inches long
• 3/8-inch-thick plywood board (2×2 feet)
• Wheel barrel
• Gallon container
• Spray bottle
• Rubber or latex gloves
STEP 2 – CONSTRUCT THE MOLD
Using the serrated knife, cut insulation into two 16×6-inch pieces and two 18×6-inch pieces. Assemble these four sections into a square or rectangle, depending on how you join the ends. Insert two nails through the insulation material–one near the top and one near the bottom–of each intersection.
Wrap tape around the mold to cover the nails, once near the top and once near the bottom, for added reinforcement.
Mark a line two inches from the bottom as a guide to the depth of the hypertufa; this will mark the thickness of the bottom of your trough.
STEP 3 – MIX THE FORMULA
Put on your mask and gloves and measure two gallons cement, two gallons perlite and four gallons peat moss. The amount will allow for some left over material to make trough feet. Mix the dry ingredients in your wheelbarrow with the hoe.
Add one-third cup of reinforced concrete fibers to give your hypertufa trough more strength. These can be found at a concrete building supply store or through Lasting Impressions’ website.
Slowly add water to the wheelbarrow. Start with about three gallons and mix it well with the dry materials. You should end up with a consistency like cookie dough or a graham cracker crust. It should be wet enough to adhere so it doesn’t crumble, but not too wet to ooze water.
STEP 4 – FORM THE HYPERTUFA TROUGH
Set the mold on the plywood board. Begin packing the bottom with the hypertufa mixture, using your previously marked line as a stopping point. Working a small area at a time, use your hands to firmly press the mixture into the bottom corners and up the sides, making sure to mash one section into another for seamless adhesion for a strong trough. Continue until the sides are covered by a 2-inch-thick layer. Spray water as needed to keep the mixture moist while you are working.
STEP 5 – ADDING DRAINAGE HOLES
To aid in proper drainage, use a dowel to poke holes in the bottom of the trough. Insert the dowel through the hypertufa until it meets the plywood base. Repeat to make six evenly spaced holes. Leave the trough to dry in a protected area.
STEP 6 – REMOVE THE MOLD
Your trough should dry in about 24 hours. After it’s dried and heather hard, carefully remove the tape and nails and pull the sides of the mold away from the trough.
The tough can be used as is, or, if you prefer a textured, aged look for your trough, gently score the exterior with a wire brush or screwdriver taking care to not poke holes in the sides as you work.
STEP 7 – CURING
Store the trough in a shady area to cure for 28 days. The hypertufa trough gets stronger every day. Your container can be left out in freezing temperatures as long as it is off the ground.
STEP 8– MAKE POT FEET
Use any leftover mixture to create feet for your troughs. These feet will keep your trough off the ground.
Pot up your hypertufa trough with a selection of your favorite plants and enjoy for years to come. Place your hypertufa trough on porch steps, in a garden bed or border, or on the patio. It will work anywhere you choose.
If you prefer to be instructed by experts, Beth and Amelia of Lasting Impressions offer classes to make hypertufa troughs, and they also have troughs ready for sale.
Bee Better Naturally with Helen Yoest
Bee Better Naturally is excited to announce to #Raleigh- area gardeners, Helen Yoest will be offering a seven-week sustainable gardening certification. This course will also be offered online within the year. Stay tuned!!!
To register, click HERE.
Certification in Sustainable Gardening—Seven-Week Course. We will be offering two classes. One on Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 and the other on Saturday afternoon 1:00 to 3:00.
Class size is limited, register early.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Over an seven-week period in January and February we will cover 12 modules including The Big Picture, The Future, Waterwise, Mulches, Pesticides, Native vs. Exotic, Creating Wildlife Habitats, Butterfly Gardens, Native Bees, the European Honey Bee, Migratory and Resident birds, and a bonus section.
Included in the course fee is a notebook for notes and several plant lists and insect control handouts.
Learn from not only an accomplished horticulturist but also a Master of Science environmental scientist!
For more information email Helen Yoest at HelenYoest@gmail.com
Our instructor, Helen Yoest has been a life-long environmental steward of the land and student as well as a retired environmental engineer. Her garden, The Bee Better Teaching Garden won the City of Raleigh’s Sustainable Garden Award in 2015.
Bee Better Naturally is a 100% Volunteer non-profit organization, 501(c)(3)
Module 0—Background—Video—Will Post Soon
Seven-week course: Every Saturday January and February except February 8th, from 9:30 until 11:30 or 1 until 3. Will ask the students what the majority prefers.
or Thursday evenings in January and February except February 6th, from 6:30 until 8:30
Module 1—The Big Picture
1. What is Sustainable Gardening?
2. Right Plant, Right Place
3. Water Conversation
4. Bed Preparation/Maintenance
Module 2—The Future
1. Climate Change
2. It All Starts with the Soil
3. Why this Course isn’t Native Only
4. Plant Communities
Module 3—Waterwise Plus Plant Lists
2. Oasis Beds
3. Transitional Beds
4. Xeric Beds
2. Collected Leaves
3. Composted Leaf Mulch
6. Green Mulches—Crop Covers
1. Organic vs Chemicals
2. Neonics, Neonicotinoids
3. Parsley Example
4. Mushrooms for roundup cure
Module 6—Native vs Exotic
1. What Matters
2. Where it Matters Most
3. Escaping Cultivation
4. The Future?!?
Module 7—Creating a Wildlife Habitat
Module 8—Butterfly Gardens Plus Plant Lists
Module 10—European Honey Bee Plus Plant List
Honey Bee Facts
Is bee keeping right for you?
1. Migratory Birds
2. Resident Birds
1. Farming Mealworms
2. Mosquito Control
3. Tick Control
4. Japanese Beetle Control
…more to come
To register, click HERE!
Naturally, Helen Yoest
Naturally, Helen Yoest
Want to give a gift that keeps on giving? No, I’m not talking about sunchokes, Helianthus tuberosus. Instead, consider making a homemade bird bubbler that will be popular with resident and migratory birds and fulfill your wildlife requirements. Although a birdbath will do, moving water adds additional value.
Still Water Versus Moving Water
While birdbaths are useful, and the Bee Better Teaching Garden has several, a constant source of clean water is paramount for our birds. Did you know birds are three times more likely to die in winter from the lack of water than from the lack of berries and seed?
For our resident birds, still water, like that in a birdbath, works well if cleaned often. Resident birds are familiar with their turf—where the berries are, seeds, fruit, and water. However, what about the migratory birds? In unfamiliar territory, the sound of the bubbler will direct birds to the source. While resident birds are also attracted, the sound ensures migratory birds can find the water as well.
Moving water also stays cleaner. There are two main reasons for this. For one, the pump circulating the water aerates, helping to clean as it moves, and two, the reservoir tub capacity is significant, so debris falls to the bottom.
For this project, I used a 20-gallon capacity tub, but the container can be any size. Greater than 20-gallon capacity is helpful so re-filling isn’t required as often.
To clean the tub every year or two, empty the tub by diverting the pumped water away from the tub
– Choose a site with electrical power. I put mine right off the back porch so I can sit and read or write while listening to the soothing sounds of bubbling water.
– I used a round, 20-gallon pond tub, found wherever pond supplies are sold. Pond liner material will also work.
– One or two stackable rocks, each drilled with a hole. The number of rocks will depend on how high you want the stone to be. Our stone had subtle undulating surfaces to create tiny pools where the birds could bathe.
– One 4-foot long, 3/4-inch exterior diameter, 1/2-inch interior diameter vinyl tube.
– One 3-inch diameter PVC pipe cut 1/2-inch shorter than the depth of the reservoir tub. While one standing pipe works, three or more is more stable.
– A galvanized woven 1/2-inch mesh, which is a thicker and more sturdier version of hardware cloth.
– Landscape cloth.
– Electrical cord rated for outside use.
– Submersible fountain pump rated to 120 gallons an hour.
Steps to Build the Bubbler
1. Excavate the soil to the shape of the tub. Dig deep enough so the tub is about one to two inches above the soil to keep rain from washing in debris.
2. Set the PVC pipe upright (vertical) in the tub.
3. Put the pump in the bottom of the tub. Attach the vinyl tube to the pump output port. This tube will be threaded into the rock to supply the bubbler’s water. You might need to place. You might have to place rocks on and around the pump to hold it in place when it is submerged in water. Just make sure you do not block the pump’s water intake.
4. Run an electrical cord rated for outside use from the pump to an exterior outlet.
5. Add the galvanized woven cloth over the bubbler area to give the desired shape of your tub, making sure to cover it so debris doesn’t fall in the tub.
6. Cut an opening in the galvanized woven cloth, in an area near the pipe, but not on top of the PVC pipe, allowing the pump to be inserted into the tub and maintained as needed without completely dismantling the bubbler.
7. Fill the tub with water.
8. Place the landscaping cloth over the mesh so debris doesn’t fall into the tub.
9. And now for the hardest part—drilling the 3/4-inch hole in the rock(s). The easiest way to do this is with a hammer drill and a new drill bit. We don’t have a hammer drill in our arsenal of cool tools, so our regular drill had to do. It can be done, but with much patience. Patience isn’t my forte, so I asked my hubby to help. I don’t ask for help often, so when I do ask, he knows I need it. So if you don’t have a hammer drill, or a regular drill with a willing partner to help, have it drilled professionally, or make new friends and ensure they own a hammer drill.
10. Place the large rock on top of the area, after you thread the vinyl tube through the bottom of the rock. This tube supplies the bubbling water.
11. Top dress the area with river rock or other materials to give the bubbler a natural look.
Now, with the sound of moving water, you will keep your resident birds happy and draw in the migratory birds as they are passing through.
Bee Better Naturally with Helen Yoest is still accepting membership for 2019. Our next Forum is Saturday, July 6th. Click here for details. The topic is on safely controlling Japanese beetles in your garden.
Bee Better Naturally will be offering several workshops for the Raleigh area. They are as follows:
Forum membership registration for 2020 will start soon. Our tentative discussion topics are:
MAKING BEESWAX FOOD WRAPS
MYSTERIES OF THE DRAGONFLY
IT ALL STARTS WITH THE SOIL
HOW-TO Grow Oyster Mushrooms
We are excited to announce our Certificate in Sustainable Gardening Program starting in January.
Click HERE to learn more.
This is an important message for those of us who raise monarch butterflies to adulthood. A recent study was released suggesting monarchs raised in captivity lost their ability to navigate south. It is VERY important to note, these eggs, larvae, and adults used in this study were purchased from a breeding house from elsewhere. The study does NOT address eggs and caterpillars collected from our own back gardens and raised in a protective chamber outside. The headline is sensationalized journalism. I wrote to the author the following:
I read your article, Monarch Butterflies Reared in Captivity Lack a Crucial Ability, with great interest. I must say, your title is misleading. Are you suggesting educators like myself are contributing to the problem of monarch migration because we raise monarch eggs or larvae in chambers two to five feet from the milkweed (Asclepias spp.)?
More data are needed. A story like this will spread like wildfire within the environmental, naturalists community when yes, shipping eggs, larvae, or adults from breeding houses may very well be a problem, yet the local educators rearing eggs or larvae laid on their own local milkweed isn’t. You story sensationalize it such that it will make a leap that it is!!! Please make a retraction, clarifying your article.
Saying Reared in Captivity also suggests those raising monarchs locally. Do you see my point?
Environmental Scientist, M.S.
However, given the results of this study, Bee Better Naturally with Helen Yoest recommends to ONLY raise butterflies from your own location and not purchased from a breeding house. Thank you..
The Bee Better Teaching Garden is peaking now. There always so much color from mid-June on. In early May, our garden was scouted for a tour group from VA. They wondered where the color was. Ha! I’ve been writing about this since 2001. May is our color of green. As hard as I’ve tried, May is green—mostly—at least for us. Come June, watch out; and July, fireworks on the ground!!! So we turned them down. We don’t want to disappoint. Now if it were in June, that would be different.
I’ve added an new category to this website to hold how-tos we have developed over the years. Here are three links we have up already:
July Garden Management
July is your prize after many months of gardening — from fall prep to spring planning — and you now get to reap your rewards with fresh fruits, vegetables, and fragrant flowers.
It is a time of abundance.
July is not the best planting month for southeast gardens, but it’s a good time to plan and prepare. The weeds will not let you rest, but they might slow down to a manageable pace during the dog days of summer. Rainfall will best determine how much time you’ll spend weeding. Little rain, fewer weeds. More rain, more weeds.
What are the dog days? The dog days or dog days of summer are the hot, sultry days of summer. They were historically the period following the heliacal rising of the star system Sirius, which Greek and Roman astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck. So watch yourself!!!
As a side note, January and July are my two worse months. For January, it is too dark. For July, it is too hot. On this first day of July, I’m counting the days until August.
In the Bee Better Teaching Garden The first week in July is as busy as a week in spring or fall. July is when I do annual cutback, clearing paths for better passage, deadheading and deadleafing of every plant in the garden. The big job is to cut back the hardy mums. A haircut in by the Fourth of July keeps the mums stouter so when they bloom, they aren’t so floppy.
Bee Balm, cleome, crinums, coreopsis, lantana, salvias, phlox, ruella, coneflowers, mountain mint, milkweeds, plus the annuals are blooming, especially the petunias and zinnias! Also in bloom are the gardenias, black-eyed Susans, and the crape mrytles are in their full glory. I’m particularly happy with the Phlox ‘Jenna’. I planted in in the fall and it is peaking now.
Deadhead flowers. Keep your flowers blooming longer by removing faded blossoms from your cannas, roses, daisies, and more. As for the seed plants, such as black-eyed Susans, phlox, and coneflower, leave the flower heads for the birds. Once the birds have picked them through, it’s time to deadhead; you will get another flush of flowers throughout the fall.
As I may have mentioned, I have thing for Oakleaf hydrangeas, Hydrangea quercifolia. The ones I have in my back 40 (feet) are the straight species, and have been there for 20 years. The newer varieties show nice shades of fading pink for a longer period of time. Mine go pink then brown rather quickly. I still love the color, especially since my garden accents are a rust color.
The Oakleaf hydrangea peeling bark gains some attention in the landscape as well. As the stems age, the outer bark rolls back to showcase the orange or cinnamon colored inner bark. I like that.
During the month of July, I send time doing an all-plant maintenance once over. I literally groom each plant whether it is dead-leafing, dead-heading, cutting back for a sturdier plant in the fall. This is also the time I thin plants, and share them with the Bee Better Forum members.
In the Bee Better Teaching Garden The first week in July is as busy as a week in spring or fall. July is when I do annual cutback, clearing paths for better passage, deadheading and deadleafing of every plant in the garden. The big job is to cut back the hardy mums. A haircut in by the Fourth of July keeps the mums stouter so when they bloom, they aren’t so floppy.
One of the big efforts for the Bee Better Teaching Garden is pinching back by a 1/3 each stem of the Hardy Chrysanthemum x rubellum ‘Sheffield Pink’ or the affectionate name Sheffies for those of us who love this late fall bee pollinator. It makes a huge difference if not cut, getting too leggy. It is my Fourth of July tradition!
There is always weeding to do, even though I’m a reliable mulcher, crabgrass happens!
Cut back annuals: Cut back summer annuals so they don’t get leggy. A good time to do this is right before you go on vacation; this way, you’ll be gone as the plants get a fresh start. Petunias benefit from this kind of summer pinch. Cutting back from the ends of the stems encourages branching, resulting in a bushier plant.
Do those yellow leaves of the daylily make you see red? They do to me. Not only do I deadhead my daylilies, but I also deadleaf. I don’t like the look of yellow or decaying daylily leaves.
Divide irises: Did you have success with your new iris planted this year or in the fall? If not, it could be due to several factors: too much shade, too much fertilizer, too deep a planting, or crowding. July is a good time to correct any of these problems by lifting and relocating or repositioning to a more favorable location.
Plant the iris high with the rhizomes along the surface of the dirt. They can be covered finely and lightly with mulch, but not soil. Make sure you can either see the rhizomes or have the ability to brush away the mulch exposing the bulb.With the exception of Louisiana variety, irises need six- to eight-hours of sunlight to bloom and require good drainage. If you have a damp, partial sun location in your garden, plant a Louisiana iris.
Well, do I really need to say, July isn’t the ideal planting time? Guess who planted several things in the garden yesterday? My rule of thumb is that anything can be panted as long as it gets watered. So why was I planting perennials? I have a waterwise design, and I’m not a fan of paying for water.
Select and pre-order your spring-blooming bulbs now while supplies are plentiful. Don’t put off today what will be gone tomorrow. The most unusual bulbs sell out fast. Try something fun such as the species tulip, Tulipa clusiana.
I always like to try something new. After the 4th, I’ll open the Brent and Becky catalog to see what will tempt me this year.
I just received an email from Eden Brothers offering a 60% sale on spring planting bulbs!
Harvest summer edibles: Here is 2019 garlic harvest. Bulbs are a bit small, but we also had a LOT of rain.
Harvest tomatoes when they are ripe. There is nothing better than sinking your teeth into a ripe tomato, warmed from the summer sun.
Didn’t plant tomatoes? Visit your local farmers market for a selection of fresh, field-grown varieties.
Did you know you can plant a second (or first) crop of tomatoes now? Yes, you will have tomatoes through first frost!
In your home garden, keep an eye out for early blight. Blight is a fungal disease that will cause spots to develop on the foliage. The leaves begin to yellow and then drop. Pinch off foliage at first indication. If too severe, there are several fungicides that can be used to reduce the symptoms.
This from Craig LeHoullier: “There are two types of common fungus, Alternaria (early blight) and Septoria cause leaf splotching, with brown spots or lesions, sometimes showing yellowing as well….it can splash up onto lower foliage – so mulching is important to delay this inevitable occurrence, especially where its really muggy and hot. Even with mulching, it does start low and move up the plant–removing blemished foliage slows the progression, and the plants continue with top growth to keep them going. I examine my plants and remove the blemished foliage every few days. Check this resource for common (and uncommon) tomato issues – it is really useful.”
We have a bumper crop of tomatoes right now. Loving them! Yet, I still haven’t had a BLT. I need to fix that soon!
Garlic and onions were harvested; too much rain caused my garlic to be small.
I finally have paw paws, Asimina triloba, the second year in a row. I guess I’m on a roll! They took their sweet ole time. My trees are nearly ten years old!
The blueberries are very small this year. I should probably give them some water, but the birds will get them anyway, and they will be fine for my feathered friends. P.S. I went out to water, and well, I think I lost half of my plants! I should have taken better care of them. Even as a native, they need water. Yikes!!!
The raspberries in the Bee Better Teaching Garden are ever-bearring. Although I don’t know for sure, I believe they are ‘Southland’. The first big flush was in late May. Throughout the rest of the summer, I’ll see a few here and there. After the blackberry and raspberry harvest, remove the old fruiting canes to make room for the new canes that will produce next year’s crop.
I like the taste of a real apple, thus so many in the grocery store are not satisfying to me. In the fall, I love going to the Farmers Market and trying all the different varieties.
We grow ‘Transcendence’ crabapple. It was one recommended by J.C. Raulston. Did you know the only difference between an apple and a crabapple is the size? There are lots of fruit in our front yard tree, and I’m already looking forward to my first bite of the season.
We are entering a very dry month. Make sure your birdbaths are full and replenished every 4-5 days.
Echinacea purpurea is a pretty pollinator in Southeast gardens. After it’s finished flowering, keep the seed heads for the birds to feed.
This is our first year with volunteer sunflowers. The native bees are very happy!
To learn more about the Mysteries of the Monarch, click HERE!
Waterwise: With a waterwise design, watering in the absence of rain is a breeze. My garden at home, the Bee Better Teaching Garden, was designed with waterwise principles. I have very little watering to do, and what I do have, is a choice. My boxwood collection is contained. and the watering is smart. These containers are near a watering source, so moving around a hose isn’t a big deal.
This is true year round, and particularly true in July and August: Remember, waterwise means using water wisely. It is not xeriscaping! Water new plantings until they are established. At the BBTG, we recommend:
Annuals: Best planted after the last frost. Most annuals will last through first frost. Every day the first week, ever other day the next, and weekly after that in the absence of rain. Give them an inch.
Perennials: Best planted in the fall or spring. Every other day the first week, every third day the two next two weeks, and weekly after that in the absence of rain. Give them an inch.
Shrubs: Best planted in the fall. In the absence of an inch of rain, water deeply weekly for the first year. I bet you don’t do that. I’ve lost shrubs by forgetting this sage advice.
Trees: Best planted in the fall. In the absence of an inch of rain in any given week, water deeply weekly for two years. I bet you don’t do that either. It’s a good idea to begin some new routines!
Practice wise watering methods: July can be a month with limited rainfall. When nature stops providing regular rain, you may need to supplement. Here are some tips to help your garden during a dry season:
Chances are your container plants will need to be watered every day. Check by doing the finger test. If the top inch of soil is dry, it’s time to water. Water thoroughly. Small pots will dry out faster than larger pots, and containers in the sun will dry out faster than those in the shade.
Add mulch. A layer of mulch, three to four inches deep, will moderate soil temperature and reduce evaporation. Organic mulches include: composted leaves, shredded pine or hardwoods, and even nuggets. Mulches will also reduce weed production and keep the garden looking tidy.
First season plants — those fall and spring additions — will need more frequent watering than established ones. Water new additions two or three times per week until the plants are established. Established plants typically require watering once a week.
Conserve water by running (if you must) a sprinkler during cooler hours, typically in early morning. This will help reduce water loss due to evaporation. If possible, set up a drip irrigation system or a soaker hose to minimize waste. Watering in the morning hours also allows the water to dry on the foliage, minimizing fungal formation.
Bagworms: Do yourself a favor and never look into the “eye” of a bagworm. Bagworms have got to be the most disgusting looking pests ever — to me anyway.
Bagworms can be treated by removing them by hand and dropping into a bucket of soapy water. If the bagworm infestation isn’t within easy reach, they can be sprayed with Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt for short.
Bt is a microbial insecticide that’s commonly used to control various caterpillars such as the red-headed azalea caterpillar along with many other caterpillars, as well as those nasty bagworms. But remember, it will kill our moth and butterfly larvae, as well!
Mosquitoes: Are mosquitoes ruining your summer cookouts? Click here to learn more about safely controlling mosquitoes.
Mosquitoe dunks Short answer: yes. Mosquito Dunks and similar products containing the natural insecticide Bt really do live up to their promise. ... Bt is fatal when larvae eat it, but is harmless to humans and other animals, including fish and frogs. Dunks and Bits kill larvae in standing water like this drainage ditch.
Japanese Beetles: July is also the month of the Japanese Beetle. Popillia japonica. Japanese beetle, is an invasive plant pest that was first introduced to eastern North America from Japan in 1916. The adults are active flyers, but natural spread is slow and they are not able to travel long distances on their own. These beetles may move long distances as hitchhikers on plant material, in roots or soil, or even on cars, trains or planes.
Japanese beetle larvae feed on the roots of turf grass and other plants. Adults are heavy feeders, attacking the flowers, foliage and fruit of more than 250 plant species, including roses, blueberries and grapevines. Japanese beetle skeletonizing a leaf
Don’t be so quick to squish!
This from my Facebook friend, Lynette: “Be sure to check them FIRST to see if they have any tanchid fly eggs on their shoulders. If they do, let them go and the flies will hatch out and consume them from the inside — and produce more flies to dispatch more Japanese beetles. If you see those opaque white dots — one or two or three or more — let them go.”
As summer peaks, you probably can’t see much ground. Consider your plants as a green mulch.
During July, I perform a full-plant-maintenance. A what? I go into each bed and begin an inspection of each plant. Does it need staking, dead-heading, dead-leafing, or pinching back for sturdier fall presence. These herbaceous materials, or biowaste added to the back 40 (ft.) sheet compost bed. Here, I lay a layer of green and then cover with a brown. Im my case, it happens to be some of the pinestraw I gathered from willing friends.
Learn about the mysteries of the monarch here.
Not sure what or how they got in. I got in my messiest garden gear and crawled from one end of the run to the other to see where the predator entered. I found nothing. The coop is fine to. as is the tunnel. Today, they are spending time in the coop until I can figure this out. Lost one of our girls. :(
You grew them, bring them inside.
THE FORUM THIS MONTH
The topic will be on controlling Japanese beetles without sprays.
Believe it or not, I started the NC State Fair demonstration garden preparation. This year’s topic will be attracting bluebird.
If I were to give you a butterfly quiz, I’m quite sure you could pass. No pressure. Here we go. Which butterfly has drastically decreased in populations during the last decade? Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you probably know about the decline of the monarch butterfly populations, as upwards of 90 percent.
It’s true and sad. There have been speculations as to why, with suggestions of drought to deforestation in Mexico where the majority of East Coast monarchs over-winter. The science is now pointing to the lack of milkweed (Asclepias spp.) in their summer breeding ground.
Milkweed is the only host plant of the monarch butterfly. Many of us believed this loss of milkweed in farms was part of the problem all along; now there is science to back it up. With more and more Roundup-ready acres to meet the demand of corn chips and ethanol in gasoline, for example, we are loosing even more milkweed. Roundup kills weed competition, including milkweed, but not the main crop.
MONARCH LIFE CYCLE & MIGRATION
The lifecycle of the monarch is straight forward: Egg—Larvae—Chrystalis—Adult. Their migration, though, is fascinating and a mystery. The butterfly that leaves Mexico in the spring will not return in the fall; rather, returning will be their great, great, great grandchildren.
Monarchs leave Mexico in the spring to travel through the Corn Belt region, where there is massive agricultural. In the Triangle area, depending on weather conditions, we might see monarchs migrating in the spring, but more often, we see monarchs from mid-August and later, as they are returning to their winter sites. We may see them earlier, if they got off course.
Adult monarchs emerging in the late fall, and thus preparing for their migration south, are in reproductive diapause. Dia what? These monarchs won’t mate or lay eggs until the following spring. While in a state of diapause, these migrating monarchs live up to nine months to make the return, whereas the first, second, and third generations lived only two to four weeks!
Decreasing day length and temperatures, along with aging milkweed and nectar sources trigger a change in monarchs; this change signifies the beginning of the migratory generation. How they find their way back to their breeding grounds, both summer and winter, remains a mystery.
Upon arrival to their winter sites, (in the case of East Coast migrations), monarchs aggregate in oyamel fir trees on south-southwest facing mountain slopes in Mexico. These locations provide cool temperatures, water, and adequate shelter to protect the the monarchs from predators and allow them to conserve enough energy to survive winter.
One way you can help the monarch’s journey is to add abundant nectar-rich plants, particularly milkweed, and shelter for the returning monarchs.
TROPICAL MILKWEED CONTROVERY
Recently, there has been a controversy suggesting the tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica, is causing harm to the fall migrating monarchs returning south.
The controversy of this non-native milkweed stems from its ability to winter-over in hardiness zones 9-11.
More and more information finds the tropical milkweed that over-winters could cause harm to the monarch by delaying migration. In doing so, according to a study from UGA, the evergreen nature of tropical milkweed may increase the rate at which monarchs are infected by the parasite Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE.) This research revealed the longer the monarch caterpillar remains a resident, the higher number of OE parasites found.
So what does this mean to you? If you live in a zone 7 or colder, tropical milkweed isn’t evergreen. If you live in a more temperate zone, 9 and higher where the tropical milkweed is an evergreen perennial, you may want to cut the plant to the ground by October, so the returning monarchs will continue on instead of staying put.
There are seventy native milkweeds to the US and Canada. So why do we need even to bother planting a non-native variety? Well, in my garden, it’s what the monarchs seem to prefer.
I’ve long held the belief that as we age, we’d rather spend more time watching the birds at our feeders than to travel far and wide to see the world. While travel is a must in our youngish years, if for no other reason than to know the best is in our own backyard, but only if we make it so.
Paul English has proven this theory, and he and his wife are expanding their landscape to provide more than just beauty. They know by building a garden for the wildlife, the garden will provide one’s every need, without continuing to travel the world.
Creating a wildlife habitat has just four simple needs, and these needs are no different than what we humans require—food, shelter, a place to raise our young, and water. And the sound of moving water alerts the wildlife. For every living organism, these are the keys to a thriving life.
Although the original design of Paul English’s garden was Asian-inspired, there are aspects, particularly color, that go beyond what's found in an authentic Japanese garden. Click here for Paul English’s backstory. Still, there is no question of his love of the Orient; it shows at every turn. It might be best to describe Paul’s garden as Japanese-inspired, and going forward in other areas of this three plus acre property he shares with his wife Linda, Paul is gravitating more towards Nature-inspired! I like that.
Yes, Paul may be creating an entirely new garden style, but gardens are personal and progressive. A garden should reflect who we are at particular times of our lives. There is no reason to re-do; instead, it’s best to evolve. We can still appreciate a certain style, but grow in our commitment to do more. Paul wants to do more with pollinators and to do that, native plants will reign supreme.
While Paul’s love of the Orient is still deep within him, he is also a naturalist at the core. Now retired, and most of his major travel is behind him and Linda, it’s time to enhance their surroundings further.
To be sure, the English’s have the water need for a habitat. Although I somehow imagine, there will be more in his future, if only to include a birdbath within his plans to expand.
Unlike many of us, we are running out of room to add more gardens. Not for Paul. Over the nearly 40 years Paul has owned his home, he also acquired adjoining properties, totaling 3.5 acres. There are houses on some of this acreage, but there is still a lot of areas to work with, including 50-feet long curvilinear bed. This new pollinator bed is framed by grass that also favors wildlife by not being so fussy. Paul’s Nature-inspired journey is to focus on this area by adding in pollinator plants to benefit the birds, bees, and butterflies.
During my visit, Paul showed me some beginnings of what will be a healthy habitat start for birds, bees, and butterflies. Paul is poised to be a disciple of the Bee Better Naturally principals with first learning about sustainability and the rest then falls into place.
Paul mentioned to me the new area wasn’t irrigated; I let him know that is ideal. While all plants require watered until established, Paul would be able to create a garden in a natural style that didn’t depend on regular irrigation. The natives that will go into the new beds are use to our east coast conditions and can tolerate periods drought.
I look forward to future visits to see Paul’s progress as his new journey begins. I suspect the only traveling needed for Paul and Linda will be to walk the beds with the very best margarita I’ve ever tasted in hand.
On a summer afternoon in early June, I had the luxury of visiting the Kirsch’s garden in Portsmouth, Virginia. Sitting on the back deck with a view of the Elizabeth River, Mike, Carolyn, and I basked in the environment.
As three nature-lovers sipped (very) good wine, the conversation flowed and only silenced long enough as we witness the squirrel’s antics on their dedicated peanut station or to watch the birds flock feeders. I can think of no other way to enjoy the day; time together continued, in our same spots, with coffee in the morning.
Viewing the garden, it was clear color was the operative word. As the Ascitic lilies, Lilium auratum, were finishing their show, the daylilies, Hemerocallis spp., blossomed for the second act. Of course, daylilies aren’t lilies at all, but who cares if they are only a Lily-like doppelgänger? It’s about color! Also, if you didn’t know, the genius Hemerocallis comes from the Greek words ἡμέρα (hēmera) or day and καλός (kalos) or beautiful. As such, the Hemerocallis common name is daylily since each flower lasts a day, but what a day it is! And of course, we know they are beautiful.
The color continued with tropicals, mostly in containers; even the containers were wisely chosen to provide color. Colorful containers are an exciting way to give a pop of color in the garden, with hues lasting well-past the summer’s floral glory.
Throughout the back garden, there was only one area void of flowers and other plantings save a blanket of St. Augustine grass. The open designed is low so as not to disturb the view of the river. I understand. Mike mentioned he wanted to garden it, but Carolyn loved the unobstructed view. I wondered if there could be a compromise.
During my time there, we also visited Paul English’s garden in the neighboring town of Chesapeake. (Look for a story soon.) While there were many takeaways from Paul's garden, the one that spoke to me most was a recirculating in-ground reservoir of bubbling rocks. Well, they were actually big boulders. It occurred to me this bubblier would be an excellent addition to the Kirsch's turf area.
Even though Mike and Carolyn have a pond with a waterfall, filled with abundant flowers, their philosophy must be more is better, so why not? On a smaller scale, I built something similar off our back porch. The key for Mike and Carolyn will be to get the scale right. I can help with that if they ask.
I'm with Carolyn, though. The grass is a relaxing square of negative space that also adds to the theme of color. Let us not forget, green is a color too!
OH, THEN THERE WAS THE FOOD
A visit to the Kirsch home and garden is about more than great conversation, color, and good wine. Food is holds center stage. Carolyn is an excellent cook, and given the rewards from the river with local seafood, the freshness only enhances the magic of the meal.
With more good wine, our bellies full of the best soft shell crabs ever served, along with fresh corn carved from the cob, and chilled cucumbers in vinegar, we were satiated. Even a BLT with tomatoes fresh from the garden can't compare. I didn’t count, but if I had to guess, I ate at least six maybe seven crabs. It was worth it.
There are glorious places to visit in this world. France, Spain, and Norway come to mind; but nothing compares to a visit with old friends and new conversation on the back porch of a home and garden sited along the Elizabeth River.
Bee Better Naturally has a lot of exciting changes to come. While I’m still learning how to use Squarespace, my now website hosting site, I’m also learning how to create online courses. I thought the first mini-course would be ready by now, but I realized I was rushing things and have pulled back. Instead of an April 1st launch, I’m now looking to lunch on Earth Day, April 22nd. Stay tuned. The course is called the Monarch 95% Club.
Did you know in nature, only 5% of monarch butterflies reach adulthood? Our mini-course includes a members site and a download of ten of the most common milkweeds across the US with graphics.
The Monarch 95% Club is a membership site; and as a member commits to growing not only more milkweed but also raising monarch egg and caterpillars to adulthood, vastly increasing the survival rate up from just 5%.
As we grow our courses, we hope to expand our mailing list. If you haven’t already subscribed to our newsletter, where we off a free monthly maintenance gardening guide, please do so. For more than ten years I have been adding and tweaking these 12 posts to be more wildlife friendly including food and decorating. I hope those of you who have subscribed, find it helpful. If so, I’d love for you to leave a comment!
You may have heard I’m leaving Ferrington Village as one of their gardeners. I loved the work, but it was time to move on. It was the fastest two years and three months I can remember. Why? Well, there were several reasons, but I wanted to do more challenging and rewarding work, so I’m back writing and focusing on technical writing. I’ll be a technical editor and writer for Merck Pharm. I’m super excited. And knowing I’m back at a desk all day, I can save my physical strength to work in the Bee Better Naturally Teaching Garden!
Bee Better Naturally with Helen Yoest is alive and well. You’ll see even more from me. As mentioned above, I will be writing and producing online courses. These online courses will be challenging and rewarding.
So lots of exciting happenings with Bee Better Naturally. If you are on Facebook, click here to like our page at Bee Better Naturally with Helen Yoest.
Also if you subscribe to this site (see above yellow bar) you will also get a free download of Getting Ready for Bluebirds!
Until soon, Helen