Sunday, September 12, 2010

Second string strength

The agastache has gone to seed and it has made a big difference in bee dynamics in the gardens. For much of the summer the Golden Jubilee and Anise Hyssop have been the goto grub for most every kind of bee. I planted lots this year.

But no more bitty blue flowers on the bottlebrush blooms. As I mentioned before I'm seeing fewer bees now. Those that remain are now visiting plants that previously only the hummingbird used to visit.

Take the crab bed, for instance. There are bees on the salvia splendens and the 2 tubular hyssops (Apricot Sprite & Apache Sunset). The s. spendens have the largest flower and even native bees can shove their little selves in for a sip. As for the hyssops, they are really small and it's fun to watch larger bees push themselves in. Some types just slice in from the outside.

In the morning the s. spendens in the arbor garden are all a-buzz, as are the red lobelia. In the background you can see lots of geraniums in the veg bed, and they are getting some honeybee traffic. I've grown geraniums here for years and to date they have only been eye-candy for the gardener. I'm not sure why this year is different. More bees? More flowers? Last year I had less bee forage so wouldn't the geraniums been more attractive since there was less to be had? I don't know the answer. I'm just glad they are enjoying them now.

As for other tiny tubular flowers, the same can be said for the salvia subrotunda. This plant is 98% foliage and 2% flower. Teeny tiny flowers. But now, without the agastache, the bees are chewing into them like candy.

Even the marigolds (which, like my geraniums never got any traffic in past years) are enjoying daily visits from natives and honeybees alike.

The agastache attracted a ton of bees this year: natives and honeybees. It's unfortunate that the plants did not bloom longer. (Yeah, I'm really disappointed (ha!)that they only lasted 3 months in spite of the extreme heat and drought! LOL)

Well, while I (like the bees) am missing the main course forage, I'm glad that the 2nd string blooms are getting their fair share of attention. After all, it's hard for me to justify indulging in too many plants that are just pretty faces since starting the sanctuary. It's good to know that some of my fave eye candy are making the cut!

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  1. The tiny trailing lobelia has been popular with bees here. That surprised me - I didn't think it was attractive to bees, and I don't recall seeing them visit it in previous years.

  2. Hi Linda. The same with my tall red lobelia (cardinal flowers). Last year I only saw bees on the short blue lobelia, never the tall red. But this year they have been swarming the red since they began blooming. Gardening always holds surprises, no?

  3. It is so great that you are deliberately creating zones for the bees. We have quite a few this year.

  4. Congrats on the bee population, Kris.

  5. Hi Larry - yep, gardening with a purpose! I'm a 'bottom line' kinda gal. LOL

    Hi Ha Xuan - many are noting higher bee population this summer. Perhaps its the pervasive heat we're all experiencing here in the States. *pant*

  6. I love agastache too. My 'Blue Fortune' is fading, too...but it's still covered in bees and butterflies. Their numbers have dwindled from what they were, though. So sad to see summer coming to an end!

  7. I love the S. subrotunda. Last year, mine had more flowers, but the Goldfinches just love the seeds. I plan to leave mine up this winter, if I can help it.

    I just picked up 12 clearance Hyssops called Heatwave. I plan to create a massing of them in one area of the garden near the trees. The hummingbirds seem more inclined to visit these sheltered areas.

    The splendens will reseed too for me. My largest stand of Yvonne's salvia is from reseeded plants. I'm going to pay attention next spring and move them when they're small to a sunnier area. I think they can grow larger than they have for me this year.

  8. Jan - my agastache is vacant now - I miss the busy hum of bees on them.

    Tom - the finches have found the agastache and are pulling them apart like crazy. I'll be putting more plants in the ring garden next spring. I found that my splendens prefer some afternoon shade else they suffer in the heat. I think it was the mass plantings that attracted more bees this year - I noticed that the singletons (agastache) scattered about the ring did not get anywhere near the traffic that the big plantings did.

    I'll be looking forward to hearing more about your Heatwave.

  9. Just beautiful...I've come to really, really love Agastaches this year...Golden Jubilee is just an outstanding plant! I just cut the spent blossoms off a month or so ago...once they go "gray", I cut them off for a fresh batch of leaves. Love your crab bed...everything looks so lush!

  10. Thanks, Scott. It may look lush, but everything out there is pretty crispy. The drought continues. Only good now is the temps are much more bearable - 70s daytime and 50s night. Man what I wouldn't give for a good soaker right about now.

    I have to find something as floriferous and bee-attractive as agastache for Fall feeding. The asters really come too late. I need something that will come into bloom end of August and go until frost. Any suggestions?


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