The Birds and The Bees and The Caterpillars …
Celebrating National Pollinator Month
June is National Pollinator Month (June 17-23 is Pollinator Week 2019), so I thought I would share some photos from our garden, as well as a little background on why I love to garden.
When Tom and I were first married, we had a small yard that I thought was well stocked with flowers, but I was mortified to learn it was “flower light” after we found a baby hummingbird lying in the driveway.
We carefully picked him up and immediately called Hummingbird Rescue. The rescue lady drove over in a van full of baby hummingbirds in cages. Apparently they have to be fed almost continuously when they are young, and the rescuer did not want to take the chance of being gone too long and not being able to feed the babies. She located the nest, which had another baby in it and put the fallen bird back in. The mother arrived and immediately knocked him out of the nest!
Next, she wired a small nest adjacent to the existing nest, but the momma bird would have nothing to do with the twin. The rescuer surmised that I did not have enough flowers in my garden for the momma bird to sustain two babies! She took “our” baby bird home with her to be fed and cared for, and then released it when it was ready to be on its own.
Long story short (well, sort of), I now rarely plant something that does not support a bird, pollinator or insect. When we originally landscaped our bigger garden at our newly purchased home years ago, we decided upon an English garden (and English roses), which started my passion for roses that has now grown to (gulp) 76 bushes!
The last few years of drought have been tough on the garden and rose bushes, but I refused to throw in the trowel and plant cactus. I have, however, added many natives and other drought tolerant plants from similar climates as long as they can support a pollinator or bird.
To save water, I keep a bucket in the shower to catch the water while it is heating up, and Tom has the partially torn rotator cuff from lifting the bucket to prove it! That, plus a rain barrel and other measures, and we were able to reduce our water usage and still have a decent looking garden.
With all the rain this year, my garden is lush and the roses prolific.
We have hosted two weddings over the years …
… but with no weddings on the horizon …
I have been making bouquets like crazy.
I even tried rose-scented linen spray.
This year I converted my vegetable trough to a “Nectar Bar” planting Hummingbird Mint (Agastache), Brazilian Verbena, Butterfly Bush (Buddleia) and Milkweed (Asclepias).
The hummingbirds have already found it, and I was excited to see a couple of Monarch caterpillars in there as well. (Monarch butterflies only lay their eggs on milkweed and the caterpillars only feed on milkweed plants – so plant a couple dozen or so!)
Because of our dogs, and because I want to encourage the pollinators (and the beneficial insects!), I only use organic products in the garden. Praying mantises and ladybugs should naturally help to keep pest populations in check.
I choose roses for their color and re-blooming properties rather than scent so not all of my roses are aromatic. The David Austin English Roses are the most fragrant in the garden. A favorite is the Evelyn rose named on behalf of Crabtree & Evelyn who use it in their rose products. I also love the lemon scent of the Jubilee Celebration I planted this year; and the Pat Austin which has a strong tea scent and the added bonus of being a gorgeous copper/apricot color too. Don’t you love the color of the Lady Emma Hamilton on the right?
As far as the non-English roses, Shelia’s Perfume (hybrid tea) and Gold Struck (grandiflora) are very fragrant. My “current” favorite rose is Cabana, a yellow and deep pink striped hybrid tea.
In case you’re wondering, I love, love, love Otto & Sons Rose Nursery in Fillmore (and, no, I don’t get a discount).
This year I added five new bushes to the garden – Gold Struck (2), Polynesian Punch, Jubilee Celebration and Boscobel. It is kind of a trek, but you can see hundreds of roses in bloom all at the same time to see which ones you want to purchase.
It’s not only roses that flourish in the garden.
If you only want to look, visit the Botanical Gardens at the Huntington Library which has 3,000 individual plants and more than 1,200 different cultivated varieties of roses, as well as 120 acres of planted gardens. Also nearby, Descanso Gardens and the L.A. Arboretum are great places to enjoy your garden fix.
I hope this inspires you to get out there and plant a pollinator garden!