Bee-friendly gardens w/ FL native plants

funny_photo_20130724224327

In light of the tragedy of the 37 million bees found dead in Canada, I wanted to include a little blurb (late though I am) about planting bee-friendly gardens that are composed of FL native plants/flowers.

Keep in mind that bees are going to be attracted to brightly colored flowers that have petals that splay open, exposing pollen and nectar that these insects thrive on. So a good tip as far as flowers are concerned, have a variety of brightly colored blossoms that produce decent amounts of pollen.

Remember that bees are very important to the care-taking of the agricultural industry as well as being the means that most plants/flowers are able to be seeded and spread. Bees also make honey–duh–and in order to prevent harm and to keep the bees hanging around, please, by all means, NO pesticides. Not only do they get into some veggies and herbs (this is why you thoroughly rinse any veggies/fruits/herbs you purchase from the supermarket that aren’t organic), pesticides can be the nemesis of some very garden-friendly and beneficial insects that are those ”good guys” in keeping the true pests at bay alongside maintaining the health of the garden.

A great article provided by Mother Earth News on organic pest control

**Again, bees will be/are great for helping your herbs and fruit/veggies! There are a number of FL native flowers that are also beneficial for companion planting with many fruits and veggies, as well as herbs.**

Five great FL natives to include in your garden/landscaping plans to attract more native bees:

  • Azaleas (Rhododendron genus) such as common, pinxter, and FL flame azaleas, attract butterflies, birds, and bees. These are FL natives(with the exception of some common rhododendron species) and offer a variety of colored blossoms, depending on which species are planted. These plants are perennials.
  • The FL blanket flower/Indian blanket flower (Gaillardia varietiesis a common native found in wildflower patches and in gardens alike. The daisy-shaped flower is perfect for landing bees and they love this flower’s nectar and pollen. This is also a perennial with some species natives, and some not. These little flowers are very hardy, perfect for growing in virtually all regions of FL, from north-central, all the way down to the FL Keys.
  • Milkweed/Butterfly weed (Asclepias spp.) is another beauty that will attract the bees as well as butterflies. Some species are non-natives, but this is another hardy plant that can be grown from north to south FL. Another perennial with flowers perfect for landing bees.
  • Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is not only a FL native completely, it also has medicinal value as well. A great addition to any FL friendly garden, this blossom will attract a variety of wildlife including native bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other species of birds as well. This is also a native perennial and hardy in virtually all FL regions.
  • Swamp sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius) and beach sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) are both FL natives and perennials. These attract a multitude of species, including birds, butterflies, and bees and are super easy to grow. These spreading flowers are hardy in all FL regions.

I just wanted to include some of my favorite FL native bee-friendly flowers that can be incorporated in your own FL garden. Remember that most flowers that attract butterflies will also attract bees. FL native plants will most of the time be the only source of food for FL native bees, but the native bees may sometimes feed on exotics as well.

Some related blogs that I found useful:

Central Florida Gardener

NE Florida’s Native Bees

FL Native Plant Society

Our Native Bees — a word about this blog, it’s not about FL at all, but there’s some great information regarding bee keeping, attracting native bees to your garden, etc., which follow the same principles for attracting and maintaining a FL native landscape for FL native bees.

Some awesome FL resources for bee friendly landscaping/gardening, info on wildflowers and FL natives, etc.:

FL Friendly Landscaping

UFL’s FL Natives and Landscaping Guides (PDF)

Sarasota Sustainability: FL Native Bee Information (PDF)

Michelle Patterson, St. Lucie Master Gardener (PDF)

Bees of Florida

Advertisements

a must-have resource for anyone interested in Herbalism

funny_photo_20130623195921

Herbal Medicine: Trends & Traditions by Charles W. Kane

I picked this book up from the library last fall, and behold! I found a really useful short ~n~ sweet basic encyclopedia on medicinal herbs and preparation methods/collection methods. I just love this book!

funny_photo_20130623200453

Herbal Medicine has an easy to read format that includes the plant’s common name and family, genus, and species names, plus a description of the plant, distribution of the plant (habitat), chemistry, medicinal ueses, indications, collection, preparation and dosage, and any warnings or cautions about the plant.

funny_photo_20130623200339

With 58 full-color photos of various plants mentioned in the text, Herbal Medicine offers readers a look at the physical characteristics of some important medicinal plants so they can get to know them and eventually be able to identify them.

of Wild Roses and Fading Dreams…

funny_photo_20130615195400

Last night my dreams took me to an ancient and serene river, where I stood on the bank looking upstream to where the first bend curved to the North. It was warm and calm and I could smell the scents of the forest behind me.

I remained silently standing, frozen in time…watching. A shadow stirred in my left-hand peripheral vision, beckoning my attention. I think it was my sister that stood to my left; her presence was comforting…I returned my gaze to the river, and scanned everything, and I noticed a plastic Ziploc bag floating down the currents toward me…I remember being curious…

The bag flowed on the currents up to the river bank at my feet. I reached into the water to scoop it out and wonder at its contents. I opened the bag and pulled out what looked like old and forgotten papers…papers with my name on them…like I had signed for a package or insurance policy many years before…

…Then I saw the message. It was a message from an old friend. The words so clearly written in his handwriting asked are you content living the life of a soldier?I didn’t quite understand that question, because I’ve never been a soldier…

The dream shifted and I was riding passenger with my father in his old Jeep as we journeyed through primordial wooded wilds. The light was grey, as if this world would hold no color beyond the deep greens of the mysterious woods surrounding our dirt path. We drove for eternity and yet, only a second in time, and finally arrived at my friend’s house…I said something to my father, and then he was gone, leaving me standing alone before an unfamiliar place. Tall and ancient trees surrounded everything.

The dream hazed and turned again, and I was swimming in a pool with my friend. We swam, watching each others’ blue eyes, knowing this would not be the last time we met in dreams.

He said he was sorry, and I embraced him. He still felt the same…I breathed him in, and his scents still held familiarity inside my nose and throat.

…Then the rain fell and we ran inside. His home was unfamiliar to me…two stories with a balcony ringing the whole living room, looking down. It felt…I don’t know…ancient, in a way…The room upstairs held a computer atop an antique stout wood desk, and every piece of artwork I’ve ever created was displayed lovingly on the walls. He said he saved this spot for me because he know how much I loved to create things of beauty.

The dog came to me and he reminded me that she never really took to anyone but me since I went away. She sat down at my feet, smiling up at me.

Then we were in a garden of tangled herbs and flowers breathing in the scents of a place neither of us had been to before. He handed me some seeds that I couldn’t identify, and I planted them at our feet. Wild roses started creeping up out of the wet black soil, seducing us with their scents. He took my hand then, and said he was sorry once more. He told me your daughter is beautiful, just like you. You’re welcome to stay here…I can’t remember if I said anything back…

…I remember being choked with tears, looking into his blue eyes, and smiling sad smiles. We hugged tightly again…

When I woke up from the restless sleep of this dream, it was raining outside. It had been raining most of the night into the morning. I could tell because the steady rhythm was constant, and the scents were too wet to have been a short rain. I couldn’t get his face and voice out of my mind for a while that morning.

No, that rainy morning was meant for lighting candles and sweet incense, and sending sermons and prayers of remembering, of love, of younger days when things should have mattered more.

As we grow older and learn more, it becomes the smaller packages in life that we are most afraid to open and accept…and this small package of mine—a faded dream of symbolic references—I have been afraid to revisit for fear of the thoughts and visions it pulls back to mind.

But Spirit has subtle yet blindingly powerful lessons that adhere themselves to those little packages we are so afraid to accept. Whether this is a past dream, or one yet to come, dreams are mine, and this one does not lie.

A Short Note on Spirit Animals

What is a spirit animal? Is it the same as an animal totem?

First of all, let me start out by saying that a SPIRIT ANIMAL is totally different from an ANIMAL TOTEM. An animal totem is a spirit animal as it relates to a whole unit, clan, tribe, etc. For a very simplistic example, the animal totem most frequently associated with the United States is a bald eagle. The United States is a collective unit, the eagle being representative of that. An animal totem can also be used to represent an ideology, much like the bald eagle also represents the ideas of freedom, liberty, and patriotism. So to say that an animal is your animal totem for you personally, is not entirely correct.

I would also like to point out that a Spirit animal is not an animal that you just like or find attractive. Spirit animals are sent for specific reasons to you and you alone, to help guide you, teach you an important lesson about your Self, your environment, your current circumstances of living…they are not always animals we like, and they are sometimes animals that we fear or by which we are disgusted. However, one thing remains clear: your spirit animal comes to you–to teach you, to guide you– because there’s great importance and bearing on the lesson. Whether you think it’s cute or hideous is irrelevant.

And lastly, I would also like to give some insight based on my personal experiences as well as what others had to say on the subject…Your spirit animal is one that you will, over time, develop a very deep spiritual connection with. This doesn’t just happen. Just like multiplication/times tables, these Spirit lessons are not completely learned with just one visit from the teacher. It takes time and patience, as well as practice, to develop your senses for recognizing when your guide is present, as well as learning the full lesson as it’s taught.

So to say that wolves are your ‘spirit animal’ because you’ve always loved the look of them, the qualities they represent, etc is not entirely accurate. But if you’ve been visited by a specific wolf or you end up ‘adopting’ it (not in the literal sense of adopting a stray animal), connecting with it, learning from it, then in this instance that specific wolf becomes your spirit animal. It’s more of a specificity/personal bond with one animal rather than a long-held affinity with the species as a whole.

Not only did Native American tribes find meanings, messages, and connections with spirit animals, this trend can be found throughout many cultures–past and present–of our world.

References and further reading:

Comprehensive Guide to Symbols & Meanings on What’s Your Sign?

How to Find Your Spirit Animal By Elena Harris, Editor, SpiritAnimal.com

Definition of Totem on Oxford Online Dictionary (U.S)

Shamanism-Working With Animal Spirits  on animalspirits.com –I want to say that this site is very simple, yet very informative. I found it quite helpful.

Contemplative thought

When the words won’t flow freely, when it feels forced or too…linear…I can’t make it happen. I can’t manifest any of the dark, any of the light, any of the thoughts taking shape as visions and ”memories” in my mind.

I grow silent and withdraw into careful contemplation…as alone I came into this world, and as alone so shall I live, evolve, learn, grow, and eventually leave this world. To walk my Path is to be alone…but alone only in humankind’s dilemma. I am always surrounded by shadow; shadow that others see as nightmarish, frightening, unknown and unseen.

But we cannot see shadow without first witnessing the light that plays over all things to create it. I am embraced by the Earth Mother and Her ancient tongue—primal and freeing, exacting and comforting, loving and harsh—I grow strong and an ancient and wild Flame blossoms in my belly.

I’m home where insanity and dark dreams are my muses. I hear endless music and poetry within the deepest workings of the Earth, and all the Spirits connected and woven into this ever-changing web of energies.

I crave cycles and change. I see Spirit and flawed perfections in the Nature that holds us firmly yet frees us if we let go of this…ego. My prayers are quiet whispers and contemplations—no less meaningful or powerful for it.

My Gods can hear me, feel me, see me always and know no difference in the loudness of my breath. I see my Gods’ presence in all things, all cycles—in the death of a being to the rebirth and renewal of others; I see it in the Spirit of my Herbs, the dance in Fire, the wet passion of lovers’ frantic and primal mating, and most of all, I see Their presence and determination in my pregnancy and birth of my Daughter.

I will honor my Way and teach her to listen with open Spiritual senses, to be accepting of these traditions that carry on through us, through our Blood and Bone.