Wednesday, May 15, 2013

BeeSmart Pollinator Guide

There’s an App for That!

I broke down and bought a smart phone a year or so ago but I never really got into getting all the apps. Technology and I are reluctant partners and I really just wanted it to be a telephone and a way to check my email on the go. But, I have to admit that this new app from the Pollinator Partnership
 Is pretty cool.

It’s called BeeSmartPollinator Gardener. It’s a comprehensive guide to help you select plants that attract pollinators specific to your area. They have a database with nearly 1000 pollinator friendly plants native to the United States. It includes a range of plants from perennials to trees. You can search for a specific pollinator like butterflies or bats and drill down to search by flower color, soil type and more.

It gets even better. Once you’ve created a list of plants you want, you can bring your phone to the garden center and never forget what you were looking for. You can use the free Catch app and add text, pictures and voice recordings to your plant notes. You can also use Catch to start a garden journal and connect with other garden enthusiasts. BeeSmart and download this one – it’s free!

Bring Life to Your Garden
Have fun out there!
Peggy Anne

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Certified Wildlife Habitat

Would you like to turn your backyard into a Certified Wildlife Habitat?

It’s not as difficult as you might think. The Certified Wildlife Habitat program from the National Wildlife Federation is an effort to empower people to take action to conserve and restore wildlife and the natural world. It’s no secret that loss of habitat is putting pressure on all wildlife but you can make a difference. By providing the four basic elements that wildlife needs to survive you can create a wildlife friendly oasis.

·       Food – You can feed birds, butterflies and other wildlife their natural diet by planting native plants that deliver nectar, seeds, fruits and berries.
·       Water – You will be amazed at how much life water will bring to your garden. You may want to think about installing a water feature. A birdbath works well too.
·       Cover – Animals need a place to get out of inclement weather and to hide from predators. Evergreen shrubs provide shelter all year. A rock or brush pile in a quite corner of the yard provides a safe haven.
·       A Place to Raise their Young – Nesting boxes, dense shrubs and trees all help wildlife to find a safe nesting site.

You can join the 157,000 other households that have certified their gardens by registering at the NWF. You can also click on this link for more tips and ideas.  When you certify you will receive a certificate to proudly share and a year’s subscription to National Wildlife magazine.

In 2005, American Beauties Native Plants joined together in partnership to help further the mission of National Wildlife Federation.  With the support of American Beauties over $19,000 has been donated to NWF to date!  These funds help support NWF’s conservation work all across America. Every time you buy an American Beauties Native Plant a portion of the proceeds goes to support the NWF.

Bringing Life to your Garden!
Have fun out there,
Peggy Anne

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Controversial Pesticides

EU Voted for a Two-Year Ban on Pesticides Thought to be Harmful to Bees 
A bee collects pollen from a sunflower in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

British newspaper the Guardian reported this past Monday that the EU is banning pesticides that are thought harmful to bees. One day later, the New York Times, Huffington Post, BBC, NPR and many, many others are all a buzz with the news. “I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over €22 billion annually to Europeanagriculture, are protected,” said Tonio Borg from the European Commission in Brussels.  

The pesticides in question are called neonicotinoid pesticides. This nicotine-like chemical is extremely toxic to insects. It dissolves in water, which means it can be taken up by the roots (or even applied to the seed) making the entire plant, even the pollen toxic. Worldwide sales of the pesticides total in the billions of dollars. Bayer CropScience and Syngenta are the two companies that are making the product in Europe. Both companies point to colony collapse disorder, mites and viruses, environmental changes and poor nutrition for the decline in bee populations. And, certainly these things must be contributing to the problem.
Americans are watching the proceedings and research closely because the pesticide is in wide use here in the U.S. In another New York Times article it has been reported by beekeepers that 40-50% of bees have died off in the past year. Beekeepers and environmentalists are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its approval of the products, which they claim were allowed on the market with inadequate review.
Bees need you now more than ever. Please take them to heart when you do your spring shopping. Every plant counts! With thanks to Mid-Atlantic Gardening, I’d like to share this list of bee favorites.
Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’
The super dark purple blossoms make a great cut flower besides being bee caviar. Cutting back the spent flowers will encourage a second bloom for you and your bees. 

Monarda didyma
The bees will love it and so will you. Use it to decorate summer salads and add color to homemade herb butters.

Annual sunflowers are easy to grow from seed. It’s a fun way to introduce your children to gardening and the outdoors. 

Hollies  (Ilex)
Butterfly Bushes (Buddleia davidii)
Salvia of all sorts (Salvia greggii, Salvia nemerosa)
Catmint (Nepeta cultivars like ‘Dropmore’, ‘Six Hills Giant’)
Sedum (especially fall bloomers like ‘Autumn Joy’ and ‘Matrona’)
Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum)
Veronica (cultivars like ‘Sunny Border Blue’)
False Aster (Boltonia asteroids)
Beebalm (Monarda didyma and its cultivars)
Anise Hyssop (Agastache)
Sunflower  (annual or perennial)
Lavender (Lavandula)
Goldenrod (Solidago)
Bringing Life to your Garden!
Have fun out there, Peggy Anne