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Plants, insects, animals, beauty, how and why to garden with nature.

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A Wild Garden

Biodiversity, You Complete Me

It’s a two sweater night in Iowa.  It never occurred to me to wear two wool sweaters before, but it seems to be the right level of sweaters these days. After many months of being home, with all the staying put and winter, it seems some beliefs have really sunk in, like rocks in the […]

Let’s Think About Seeds: The Cold Treatment

Sometimes it is best to turn our minds from current events, and return to the beauty of old, continuous events, like sleeping trees, crusty snow, slow and fast approaching spring, quiet seeds sitting on the dining room table… Yes, let’s think about seeds. An important trait for seeds (and for gardeners to know about) is […]

Letting the Garden Garden: Native Self-Seeding Annuals

One of my favorite flowers in the garden is a plant that some might mistake for a weed: Annual fleabane.  Now, a fleabane doesn’t sound like much, but I love this plant, and each year I am excited to see where it will grow – a spot in a garden bed?  The lawn? A planter? […]

The Long-Blooming Garden: A Planning Tool for Pollinator Gardens

Part of the invisible beauty that runs through pollinator gardens is the spirit of reciprocity.  We gardeners, who have been given so much, shout out with our flowers, “Come!  Eat, drink, live! and be merry,”  calling in bees and butterflies, from near and far. And one of the most important considerations in our beautiful pollinator […]

Falling Leaves

As of yesterday’s rain, almost every leaf has fallen off the trees -is it a coincidence that I felt myself looking forward to spring this morning?  I really miss the leaves when they are gone, so I try to remind myself: the leaves are not really gone, they are simply on the ground.   For years […]

New England Aster: The Ins and The Outs!

All year long in the garden, I have stood on the deck, looked out, and thought, “Hmm, I need more flowers.”  This is what I always think, and it’s as true as ever.  More New England aster!  It seems like it only makes sense to have purple stretching back as far as the eye can […]

Singing in the Garden: Insect Songs of Autumn

For years now, my heart has grown more and more tender towards crickets.  From the flower beds, the fall field cricket’s sweet little end of summer chirps are so beautiful, and then… fall begins.  So many insects are singing now in the garden, creating such rich layers of trills and chirps. And over the last […]

Prairie Dock Forever

Prairie dock!  Silphium terebinthinaceum (what a word)!  When I first saw a picture of prairie dock,  I thought, “WHAT?!  How have I never seen this plant?!”  I was about to bust right open, sitting on my couch, looking at my plant catalog. “Where has this plant been all my life?!” I shouted internally.  Appreciation of […]

Dancing Monarchs and Meadow Blazing Star

Early August is here, and the Monarchs are swooping down on us.  There are endless things to write about in the garden: Joe Pye weed, prairie dock, summer azures, puddling, annual fleabane (still blooming!) -these are all things I was trying to write about, but the monarchs can not be denied.  They really have the […]

Edible Summer Wildflowers

There’s nothing like going out to the garden and eating your flowers to make the dogs days of summer more bearable (ha!) -especially when they can beautify a huge glass of cool water. Or garnish your favorite garden squash. 10 Summer Wildflowers to Eat After checking and double checking, I can confidently say the flowers […]

A bumblebee visits hoary vervain

Bumblebees!: Nesting Habitat

In North America we have 46 species of fuzzy, little bumblebees.  They generally follow similar life history patterns: queens emerge, find a nesting site, seek pollen and nectar to establish a colony, workers emerge, they grow the colony, generate new queens and male bees, those fly off and mate, new queens find a place to […]

common milkweed flower buds

Pollinator Week!: Not So Common Milkweed

Today is the last day of National Pollinator Week, designated 13 years ago to raise awareness about the urgent issue of declining pollinators.  Most of the usual parades, speeches, and balloon drops were canceled this year, but at my house, the week was marked by the blooming of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).  Common milkweed has […]

Mimicry and the Swallowtails

Swallowtails, so beautiful, so fast. They begin to speed through our yard in late May or early June, and continue showing up now and then throughout the summer. In southern Iowa there are 6 species of swallowtail butterflies that we can see: the eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) black swallowtail (Papilio polyxene) giant swallowtail (Papilio […]

Ohio Spiderwort: Saving the Morning in the Late Spring Garden

Ohio spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) is in full bloom around my house right now.  Native throughout the eastern U.S., Ohio spiderwort is a beautiful, blue, graceful, easy plant to grow. I especially appreciate the timing of when this plant blooms: late spring, a time in the garden when not many other native flowers are blooming.   […]

Columbine and the Pollinators

The columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) has begun to bloom around my home -the hummingbirds and I have been waiting.  Columbine is an early flowering plant that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) visit for nectar as they migrate north each year.  Flying from Central America, across the Gulf of Mexico, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, usually arrive in the southern U.S. […]

Planting a Pollinator Garden: A Quick Start Guide

Putting in a pollinator garden is pretty simple, and when getting started there are just a few things to consider: deciding where to put the garden sun and moisture conditions planting native flowers with a succession of bloom times including super food flowers a couple planting tips and last but not least, killing your grass […]

Edible Spring Wildflowers

Spring is here and the days are warming.  We’re outside more and more, enjoying the sun, working away in the garden: naturally, we need a snack.   These are the edible spring flowers, that we can use as a beautiful garnish or just a very pretty bite to eat for the kids.  On a walk […]

No Time for a Cold Treatment? No problem.

If you are thinking about ordering native plants for your garden (and if you are like me), the price tag for a plant may seem a bit high. Especially when you compare it to The Seed Packet. So much potential held within a $2.50 packet of seeds!  So the choice is: 50 to 100 or […]

Squash + Squash Bees Forever

Squash Bees: Every summer morning, somewhere in North America, a little squash bee crawls into a squash flower and falls asleep.  Around mid-day, the blossom closes, making a safe little golden chamber for the little bee. If you ever need reassurance that life can be beautiful and good, remember the squash bee, Peponapsis pruinosa.  The […]

Bumblebees! : The Early Spring Garden

Resources: Conserving Bumble Bees, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation Pollinator Plants, Midwest Region, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation Status of Pollinators in North America. National Research Council 2007. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Patterns of widespread decline in North American Bumble Bees, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Gardening Plants for Early Pollinators, […]

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