Blue Days

Nothing to cry about, quite the contrary! This lace-cap hydrangea serrata is attracting lots of visitors, both humans and pollinators. So happy that our buzzing friends (the buzzing insects, not the humans) are finding nourishment throughout the gardens.
And, it’s blueberry season here in Maine! I’ve picked up a carload of blueberries from my friend’s farm in Washington. Ten 10 lb. boxes of blueberries for here and for friends. Of course, we will freeze most of them, but a couple of fresh pies will be made and some blueberry ice cream cranked out. Like I said, nothing to cry about!!! Yum! Summer at its best!

Rusty Patched Bumblebee

This played on Maine Public radio this week. Something for all of us to consider, another great reason to grow a garden and to add native plants to your landscape. As our human footprint continues to increase, creating habitat for declining species is the least we could do.

Please listen….not only a warning about the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee being put on the endangered species list but some curious facts about this amazing little bee!
I apologize for the possible broadcasts you may hear after the piece on the bumblebee, not sure how to edit the recording!

http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2017/01/13/rusty-patched-bumblebee

Picture 1308Picture 1311Not sure what we’re more happy to see….the lovely blooms that grace the gardens, or the pollinators that are so busy collecting pollen and nectar. We have noticed a drop in our pollinating friends between last year and this season. It is worrisome. We are so glad to see them buzzing about and furiously working over the poppies ( and all the other blooms) in the gardens. We are fortunate that the majority of the plants, trees, and shrubs that we grow are natives, and this helps the native pollinator population.
Being at that ‘mid-point’ of summer we too have been working furiously. The gardens are always in need of attention…. we are harvesting, weeding, and continuing to amend the soil as needed. We have a lovely new WWOOFer named Hannah, who has been helping to keep things ship shape. Many hands make light work as they say. We can always use several pairs!
She is enjoying the work and the abundance of fresh vegetables that are coming into the house. One thing for sure, if you WWOOF at the nursery, you’re sure to eat well. Hard to believe that it is almost half way through the month of July! Here are just a couple of recent photos from the display gardens. Picture 1322Picture 1316 And, we’ll leave you with this……

“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”
― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

Seeds For The Season

IMG_0027We’ve just finished with our seed orders for the upcoming season. Folks often ask us which seed companies we buy seed from. As many of you know, the nursery end of our plant production is done on site. We propagate most of the woodland, native, and shade perennials ourselves. As you may remember from past posts,( 2nd seed post) seed collection is one form of propagation we use here. The seeds that we order from the companies I’ll be mentioning, are for the several large vegetable gardens we grow. We garden organically and feel very committed to purchasing seeds from companies that offer organic seed, open pollinated varieties, as well as a selection of heirloom varieties. Most importantly we want to support seed companies that have taken the Safe Seed Pledge. As signers, companies pledge that they do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. As the seed industry is becoming dominated by large multinational corporations, sourcing safe seed from ethical and ecologically minded companies can be challenging. But good seed companies still exist, they are out there, and supporting them is important ( crucial, really) to the safety and health of all us, the environment, and the future of our food. Without listing the names of the ” multi -national giants” who are permeating the seed industry, we encourage gardeners and growers to do some research on the negative effects caused by GMO’s and treated seed. For example, neonicotinoids, an insecticide used by many of the large seed companies to coat their seeds, is absorbed into all parts of the plant, including the flowers. Residues build up in both pollen and nectar, and are extremely toxic to our bee population ( as well as all other pollinators), causing both paralysis and death. Who you buy your seed from is an important matter.IMG_0028
With all that said, here are the seed catalogs we primarily order from : Fedco Seed Company, http://www.fedcoseed.com, P.O, Box 520 Waterville, Maine, 04903 , ( 207) 426-0090
Johnny’s Selected Seeds, http://www.johnnyseeds.com, 955 Benton Ave. Winslow, Maine 04901 , (877) 564-6697
Seeds of Change, http://www.seedsofchange.com, P.O. Box 152 Spicer, MN. 56288 , (888) 762-7333
High Mowing Seeds, http://www.highmowingseeds.com, 76 Quarry Rd. Wolcott, Vermont 05680, (802) 472-6174
Territorial Seed Company, http://www.territorialseed.com, P.O.Box 158 Cottage Grove, OR 97424, (800) 626-0866
Turtle Tree Seed, http://www.turtletreeseed.org, 10 White Birch Rd. Copake,NY 12516, (518)329-3037
We buy the bulk of our seed order from Fedco and Johnny’s. Our favorite tomato variety, Martha Washington, is offered at Johnny’s. In addition to Fedco’s huge vegetable, tree, and cover crop offerings, I always buy my dye garden seeds from them and most everything else. They’re local and both great companies. We like Seeds of Change, Territorial, and High Mowing, and often find a few specific varieties that one or the other does not offer. My seed order with Seeds Of Change this year: Corno Di Toro pepper, Hutterite bean, Emerald Oak Lettuce, Tokyo Market Turnip, and Leonardo Radicchio. A small order, but very specific. I love to support Turtle Tree Seed company from upstate New York. They are a small bio-dynamic, open pollinated seed company that is doing great work to ensure the future of our seeds. Two things I will order from them ( for sure) is Phacellia, an annual that is native to California and Arizona, a great pollinator and used as a soil builder in Europe. The other is Silphium perfoliatum, also called Cup Plant, a native perennial from the mid west to the east coast, north into Canada. It grows 4-8 feet tall, with sprays of yellow flowers from July through September. It is also important to birds, butterflies, and bees.
There is so much conversation to be had regarding the future of our seed security. It is really worth reading up on and researching. It is truly worth the effort in knowing where your seed and plants come from. It can and does impact so much. Well, happy gardening…….not quite yet, we have to get through a few more snowstorms first! IMG_0033

Open For ‘Beesness’

Peony japonica

Peony japonica

Peony obovata var. willmottiae

Peony obovata var. willmottiae

Two different species peonies have recently opened in the garden. On the many occasions we stopped to admire their blooms, we were fascinated by the number of pollinators who were also making their visit. Several types of bees were present, along with many other significant pollinators…insects and beetles, all focused on their work. Soon, we will devote a more in depth post on the importance of these various pollinators. It’s a topic we’re often thinking about. It was comforting to see all the activity on the peony blossoms yesterday, and we find ourselves just as enthralled with this ‘buzz’ of activity as we do with the flower itself. Reminding us that the flower exists for more than just its beauty, and that its design is part of an important cycle. As you enjoy the blooms of your own gardens, keep a look out for all these essential pollinators and be glad for the crucial role they play.
Peony japonica

Peony japonica

Peony obovata var. willmottiae

Peony obovata var. willmottiae

Also, we couldn’t help snapping a picture of the primulas and marsh marigolds continuing to do their thing. The bird bath is made by our good friend and neighbor, Mark Guido. Several examples of his wonderful stone work find a place in our gardens. More on him later, as well!Picture 802