A little bit of Summertime Magic

The weather has been absolutely heavenly, and things are growing and thriving in the garden and around the yard. DSCN2872.a1_markedMy dandelions have been plentiful, perfect for making cosmetics and tea. These babies pack a punch of all sorts of vitamins and minerals, and are a very rich source of beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Some of the other vitamins and minerals found in dandelions include Vitamin B-complexes, Vitamin C & small amounts of Vitamin D, fiber, potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorous.

Dandelions are also a great source to get trace minerals and organic sodium (table salt is baaaaad news!) A bitter plant they can be, but these babies can be mixed with sweeter greens and fruits for a wonderful salad. Minus the ants! So clean before eating & using.

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I don’t believe this particular species of milkweed is native to FL, but it sure as hell helps nurture, support, and harbor my monarchs! I got to watch the monarch’s life cycle from caterpillar to butterfly with my little girl, and it never fails to amaze me!

(This is a great page, easy to read information about FL’s native milkweeds and monarch facts.)DSCN2847.a_marked

Here she is emerged from her chrysalis, posing for a picture. Nature is amazing, the Earth Mother always gifting us with moments to share love and joy with every living being. With moments like these, magic truly does exist.

Summer Blessings Xo

Bee-friendly gardens w/ FL native plants

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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