Thursday, January 29, 2009

Perception is not always Reality

Or, how a presentation perceived as uninteresting turned out to be spellbinding . . . .

When I signed up for the January 21 Native Plant Symposium at the State Botanical Garden in Athens, I did so to learn more about "Landscape Design for Planet-Friendly Gardens" (the presenter had called in sick, and that was disappointing, but . . . read on!). The one symposium segment I had absolutely no interest in was "Inviting Bees into your Garden", by a local beekeeper; I love gardening and love having all sorts of critters in my garden, and am worried about the declining bee populations, but beekeeping? Not for me!

Then Dan Harris took the podium and told some fascinating tales of bees - all sorts of bees (his photographs did not hurt the presentation either . . .).

Did you know (I certainly did not!) that 1/3 of what we eat is directly or indirectly the result of what bees do? And do you have any idea of what we do in orchard management, the use of pesticides or in residential and commercial development contributes to the stress imposed on bees? I had no idea. We all know about the stressors of trying to find balance in our personal and professionals lives, but stressed out bees? Who knew?

Lecture notes about this presentation are still available on Dan Harris's web site, but I don't know for how long. So, check this out soon!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Georgia Native Plants

On May 15, I will give a talk about Georgia Native Plants at the Len Foote Hike Inn. If you have never yet been to the Hike Inn, you have so far missed one of Georgia’s nature gems. Nestled in the mountains above Amicalola Falls and not far from Springer Mountain, the Southern entrance to the Appalachian Trail, the inn is accessible only by foot (a 4-hour hike – in one day, overnight, out the next) on a 5-mile trail that offers dramatic Blue Ridge vistas, discrete glades of rare wildflowers and ample opportunities for photography, contemplation and “communing with nature”. What more can one ask for?

If this intrigues you . . . ., check it out! And if I don’t see you there on May 15 and 16, I hope you will make it a point to visit this wonderful spot in Georgia some other time this year.

NOTE: The above image of a Trillium grandiflorum has been released into the public domain by its author, Hardyplants at the wikipedia project.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Winter Color in the Garden

Pansies are a wonderful, cheerful facet of a garden in winter. My old bird bath undergoes a series of transformations throughout the year. Last summer is was covered in portulaca and million bells, in the fall, it was gourds and Indian corn (with a post-Halloween $1.50 plastic pumpkin from one of the "big box" stores) and now the pansies are in residence again. Because more rain is expected today and tomorrow (finally, finally, the drought seems to be retreating), I decided to provide a pine straw cover, at least for the time being.

Signs of Life

One of the nicest things about January is that February is not far behind and signs of life in my garden will then soon start appearing. Well, there are such signs already, on the third of January! As I was outside this morning, clearing a bunch of gourds, some ears of Indian corn and a bright orange (plastic!) pumpkin out of the old bird bath, and putting some pansies in it, with a plume of some ground cover or other, I noticed "the little cabbages" in a pot on the patio. Last summer, this big sedum, topped by bright pink flowers, was a hit with bumblebees and butterflies. All indications are there will be plenty of flowers to attract them again this year. I will, of course, have to take this plant out of its pot and divide it. Having started with 3 tiny sedums in 2004, and having added another one (this one - different foliage and much different color) in 2006, my 2008 garden held about a dozen of them. It'll be fun to see them all emerge again in a few months.