Monday, June 6, 2016

Simple Suggestion #251... Start a Bee Bistro

Our front yard is a buzzing Bee Bistro these days. Little bumbling friends visit all day every day in good weather. I could sit and watch them for hours.

When we bought our home in 2003, you could hardly think for the drone of happy bees in our back yard blossoms, but the front yard was a grass monoculture. It wasn't long before we decided to change it over to perennials a little at a time. We began in 2004 by digging up a three foot swath of turf along the sidewalk that leads to our front door and planting potatoes. In 2005, the City replaced our sidewalks, and instead of allowing them to replace the sod where they had removed a strip of our lawn, we asked that they hold back the sod so we could plant iris beds along the front sidewalk. Slowly and surely, our lawn monoculture was being replaced.

In 2007 I took a Master Composter/Recycler course and learned about lasagna gardening. By then, I had noticed a serious decline of bees in my back yard and learned about colony collapse disorder and other bee-related health issues. I really wanted to do something to help our little fuzzy friends. So when we dismantled a back yard rock garden that was shot through with quack grass in 2008, we layered newspaper over a large piece of front lawn, covered it with compost, and divided and transplanted a few perennials from back yard to front. It wasn't much to look at, and there weren't very many bee visitors, but it was a beginning. (We did all the work ourselves... those are city trucks and machines for cleaning the streets.)

In 2010, we turned the remainder of the south lawn into garden with more sheet mulch and moving more perennials from our backyard to the front, which allowed us more room for vegetable gardening.

15 months later it looked like this...

And this year it's really filled in...

Lupins, columbine, day lilies, irises, daisies, perennial geraniums, bachelor buttons and even chives are putting on a show, and our little bee friends are literally feasting on beauty! Butterflies, birds and jack rabbits seem to like it too...

It doesn't take much to start a Bee Bistro. Flowers are all that's needed -- even dandelions will do. It's not necessary to turn a lawn into floral chaos like we did -- tending flower seeds that will happily grow in a pot also works and requires much less effort. Starting small is always a good idea.

It's such a joy to watch things grow, and hearing the buzz of bees is definitely thanks enough in my books.

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Click here.

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