Now that the vegetables are planted and the first round of meat chickens completed there is time to focus on the development of the perennial bee garden. We started with 6 butterfly bushes and 6 catnip bushes in front of the bee hives to keep them from flying too low when they leave…then the idea grew.
The bed is 1000 square feet and is directly in front of the Beehive village. This does add a level of difficulty in planting. I have been doing most of it first thing in the morning (they seem to wake at 9 am) and even then I keep crouched low so I’m not in their way. You do not want to be the obstacle in their flight path. I have managed to wear only a head scarf and sun hat to keep the bees from getting stuck in my hair. It’s quite the crazy garden lady look but hey, whatever keeps me from squashing a Bee in my hair is a good thing. If I go out too late the full hood is needed, so I try not to.
Friends have been contributing perennial seeds or divided plants and we have been collecting from perennial sales as they happen. That plus moving what was in the yard (chives, lavender, cone flowers…) and we are looking full (on paper). Much to my chagrin the crows think that I am playing hide and seek with their food. Every time I plant seeds they clean them out…I have saved a good variety of seeds for next year and will start them inside, planting small plants instead.
The plan on paper:
I had to research every plant for height and width, made a simple chart from short to tall and tried to figure out placement from that.
The flowers we have used are: Cherry trees(2), Bee Balm(3 varieties), Astilbe, Rose Cleome, Lavender(Hidcote and Munstead), Butterfly bush, Cat Nip, Poppies, Cone flowers(yellow and purple),Purple millet, Borage, Phlox, Holly Hocks, Phalecia, Helenium, Goblin Blanket flowers, Onion Chives, Hyssop Anise, Arctic Fire Dianthus, and Arabis Snowcap. We added in some annual seeds of Sun flowers(3 heights), Marigolds and Calendula. That’s 29-ish varieties so far. We are always open to more flowers for the bees, we will find a home for them.
The plot is divided into 4 quadrants with a walking path meeting in the center at a bee/bird bath. We have floated sponges in the water for the bees to rest on and not drown but the birds keep eating them and tossing them out. We are trying a wire and cork arrangement with copper fittings in the water to help prevent the green slim growth.
This year will be what it is (minus the eaten seeds) and we will develop the future as we see results, deciding if we like them or not. It’s nothing to look at yet; too much space between plants(will be bigger next year), weeds moving in over the missing seed spaces, the walkway needs to be brick edged and filled with mulch(cut down trees in the back 40 so have a huge pile in the side yard, also really pretty??), the water bath has settled with a wee lean to the right…just things to keep us busy really. It is started and as with any beginning there is learning and corrections to be done.
Something about believing you have a long wealth of future to work with makes planning a perennial garden fun. We will still be here, working this property, so there is no hurry.