Herb Garden + Pollinator Love

Hey y’all!

During quarantine I’ve been pretty busy in the garden, as a recent three or four exceptionally warm days made everything explode with glee in the garden (including, of course, weeds!). And with that, our herbs are also getting gorgeous, many of them blooming which thrills the native bumblebees as well as our honeybees.

We grow a lot of herbs not only as part of a potager-style veggie garden, but also in the general landscape because a great majority of them are AWESOME at keeping deer away. So that makes it fun for trying out many different varieties of each without the pressure to utilize all of them for cooking, enjoying them equally for the benefit they bring to our pollinators who go crazy over them, not to mention adding much-needed ecological diversity to land that we bought almost 2 years ago (which was devoid of just about everything due to the owner’s preference for earth-unfriendly products like Miracle Gro and a variety of pesticides…I mean, we couldn’t even spot earthworms where the few shrubs were, it was so strange…fortunately we’ve changed that!).

Anyhow! Here are some of the many herbs we are growing around the property. I have a primary “herb garden” just outside the back door for easy access, but we’ve got them in the front and back gardens as well as we slowly but surely add more plants while removing more grass. We focus on perennial herbs for landscaping, but do grow annual and biennials in the raised beds as well…

Herbs: Rosemary (Tuscan Blue), Thyme (common), Silver Thyme, Savory, Rosemary (White), Chamomile, Variegated Lemon Balm, Marjoram, Oregano, Sage (common). In the middle: Australian Mint. Not pictured: peppermint, lavender, basil (seasonal), parsley (seasonal), borage, pineapple sage, bay.

Outside of the herb garden, our pollinators are literally having a field day as well, loving the variety, from the ceanothus (aka California lilacs) we have everywhere to the daikon radish blossoms that went insane in front of the house (we rarely harvest the as we’d rather enjoy the flowers, similar to artichokes (which I love but hate to prepare and instead spend altogether too much on the little marinated bottled bits).

And with all the pollinators, I decided to restart my efforts of documenting bumble bees on our property with the website Bumble Bee Watch, who are inviting volunteers all around the country to track and identify bumble bees in their area. OK so I learned immediately that my smartphone has no macro function that I can find, and I’ll need to pull out my regular camera to try again. And while they give you about ninety types of bumble bees to choose from, for the life of me I cannot figure out what kind they are. But one thing that was cool on day two of this effort is that on this one California lilac bush (right), I spotted three unique varieties of bumblebee in just 10 minutes’ time, along with honeybees (I’m going to assume they’re from our hives), little bitty mason bees, and another unknown type which I think live in the wall of our barn. Pretty rad.

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