Don't carry what you don't need in your pocket, in your home, in your heart. ~ Joshua Becker

Time to Prune!!

   This is the highly anticipated time of the gardening season when temps are slowly rising and you know the fun is ready to begin. We need, however, to clean out the beds and prune! So here are guidelines on when/how to prune in the growing season:
From Better Homes & Gardens: For starters, begin by removing dead, diseased & damaged stems; as soon as you see the new growth forming, you'll see them. Also remove suckers (from the ground) and vigorous growth from the trunks and side branches. Complete tips/videos for all scenarios from BHG website are contained in the link below:

    So you didn't think I would forget that this garden lesson applies to our daily lives too?! This blogger/homeowner has been mesmerized by the fyi series 'Tiny House Nation' and the downsizing home movement. I also stumbled upon a wonderful book, 'The More of Less' by Joshua Becker. It is a wonderful read and points out that minimizing is not a one size fits all scenario. (But did you know the average home contains approx. 300,000 items - not a typo!) If you haven't moved in many years then the accumulation has probably happened! I personally see the look of panic on my daughter's face at our amount of stuff! Joshua Becker points out in his book that the Millennials are interested in more experiences and less stuff; she is a true Millennial & my role model/helper with this process!.  So with all this inspiration in mind, I have begun my own personal journey. For starters, our biennial garage & perennial (forces me to divide!) sale happens this May. I also began last fall selling items on EBay. This has been wonderful for me, I mean who knew you could get as much a rush selling as going shopping and buying?! We also donate, toss & gift to someone who we know can use. Another favorite show of mine, 'American Pickers', follows Mike & Frank  going around the country uncovering treasures that they can sell but more importantly that the world needs to see again. We may not have 'outbuildings' full of stuff, but who doesn't have attics, basements, closets, drawers with things that haven't seen the light of day in years?!?  
    My personal pruning process is happening now & no matter how much or little I get through in a month's time, it feels good ~ really good. How many of the plant pruning points above apply to our real lives too? I especially love the 'stimulates new growth' and 'enhances flowering'. Seriously who among couldn't use a  whole lot of that while reducing a whole lot of this?! Have Fun & Prune Away, readers!!!

Planting For the Bees!

    Some good news, in October the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has given endangered species status to 7 kinds of yellow-faced bees in the Hawaiian islands. These are the first bees in the country to be protected under this Act. We are pleased the awareness is the there but this was in Hawaii! That's scares me. We urgently need to act in our own backyards & do what we can to encourage bee activity in our own gardens. Here are some suggestions. Also, visit this link for more info:
    To begin, plant at least three different types of flowers in your bee garden to ensure blooms through as many seasons as possible. This will provide bees and other pollinators with a constant source of food.  For example these perennials:
·         Crocus, hyacinth, borage, calendula, and wild lilac provide enticing spring blooms.
·         Bees feast on bee balm, cosmos, Echinacea, snapdragons foxglove, and hosta in the summer.
·         For fall, zinnias, sedum, asters, witch hazel and goldenrod are excellent late bloomers.

Other tips:  bees also prefer single flower topped flowers such as daisies and marigolds, rather than double flower tops such as double impatiens. Double headed flowers look showy but produce much less nectar and make it much more difficult for bees to access pollen. And skip the highly hybridized plant for the less nectar reason.
More Flower Choices:
Asters, Hyacinth, Roses, Sunflowers, Calliopsis, Anise Hyssop, Marigolds, Poppies, Snowdrops, Zinnias, Clover, Dahlias, Foxglove, Geraniums, Hollyhocks, Hyacinth, Heliotrope
  Fruits & Vegetable Choices:
   Blackberries, Cantaloupe, Cucumbers, Gourds, Peppers, Pumpkins,    
   Squash, Strawberries, Watermelons
  Herb Choices:
   Bee Balm, Borage, Catnip, Coriander/CilantroFennel, Lavender, Mints,  
   Rosemary, Sage, Thyme
  Bees also love fruit trees, especially Cherry trees!!

·         Make a bee bath. Bees have trouble using birdbaths, because they aren't able to land in deep water. They need an island to land on so they can walk to the edge and take a drink or a bath without drowning. To make a bee bath, take a wide, shallow dish or tray and line the edges with flat rocks. Pour water over the rocks and into the bottom of the tray. Place it in your garden near the flowers that attract the most bees. The bees will be able to land on the rocks and access the water.
·         Stop using pesticides of any kind. Bees are susceptible to pesticides and other chemicals sprayed and used in gardens. Aim to have a pesticide-free garden and use pest-ridding remedies that are natural and not reliant on chemicals. If you do spray plants, only do so after dusk, when pollinators are least active, avoid using chemicals known to harm bees.

 So, keep all these wonderful suggestions of plantings in mind when purchasing for yourself or for those Easter/ Mother's Day gifts this year! Also, when your friends & family ask for your sage advice on their gardens, keep these in mind as wonderful suggestions. Happy-To-Bee Gardening!