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ManyTracks Organic Gardening
 with Sue Robishaw

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Herbs & Flowers
Garden & Orchard
herbs and flowers in garden

Four decades of Growing Good Food in the Northwoods of Michigan's Upper Peninsula
~ ~ ~
Down to Earth Information, Experiences, Thoughts

Flowers and herbs have often been afterthoughts in my garden, being stuck here and there wherever there was a little space. Not that I didn't appreciate them but when I'd think of gardening it was usually the practical food that came to mind first, and got the most attention. But when I started expanding the orchard and thinking of the whole area as one I became more up-front aware and purposeful in my planning and planting of those often humble but so essential flowering plants. And I'm thoroughly enjoying the process.

Bees in the Hellenium - September 22, 2017

Growing fruit seems to naturally make one more aware of the many pollinators we depend on to get that fruit. Although I often lump them all together for convenience under the label "bees" I know there are many different insects that fill out the pollinator category. And we're blessed with a wide population here. It's an amazing experience to stand and watch and listen to a popular blossoming plant full of so many different sizes, shapes, types of pollinators. And it just seems fitting that as I add fruit trees that I want them to visit and pollinate I should also add other blossoming plants for their pleasure, especially those that bloom early and late when necture is sparse. So that's what I've been doing, for their enjoyment and mine, too. This year I planted some Hellenium seed early in the greenhouse, transplanting the little plants out to the border bed of the garden and a few to the nursery bed since they seemed rather small and in need to grow a year or two in a gentler spot than out in the orchard grounds.

Hellenium flowers and beesThey grew without much attention from me until one day I realized the plants were large and bushy, healthy and getting ready to bloom. Mmm, not as delicate as I had thought! Then in mid September suddenly (it seemed) there was this beautiful plant simply loaded with yellow flowers and BEES - lots of bees. I hadn't expected such a display of bright blooms from this simple hardy perennial. And every time I went by there were bees. When the frosts came the flowers kept on. In October when there were few flowers left elsewhere, the Helleniums were still there for the bees (and me). The 23 degree freeze did touch them, though they are simply looking rather tired not dead. But there is still the lone bee now and then getting a last minute nectar treat. What a nice and much appreciated surprise for us all.  


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Have you read  "Frost Dancing - Tips from a Northern Gardener" ? A fun short read.

or "Homesteading Adventures"    Creating our backwoods homestead--the first 20 years.

and "Growing Berries for Food and Fun"   A journey you can use in your own garden.

updated 01/16/2017

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