Native Pollinators rather than Honeybees
When faced with what to plant on our septic mound when we first moved to MuRefuge, I chose rosemary with blue flowers for the Southwest end and pink flowering rosemary for the Northeast end.The honeybees loved the flowers. As I learned that honeybees are actually very lazy pollinators compared to the native bees, I began to rethink the massive plantings.
I have heard from many reputable sources that native pollinators are far superior in doing their job of pollination than the Southeast Asian honeybees. So several years ago the pink flowering rosemary bushes were removed and recently the blue flowering ones as well.
As the lavender bushes, also planted on the septic mound, flourished, I was looked for a way to share the abundance of the lavender flowers. I contacted the owner of Sceamin' Mimi's, Maraline Olsen, to see if she would like to make lavender ice cream. She said "yes" and also wanted to know if I had any recipes since she had not ever made lavender ice cream. As many of you know their lavender ice cream is now highly sought after, and has won almost as many awards as Mimi's Mud. Since they do not use an organic "mix" for their ice creams and my body is pretty picky when it comes to what I put into it, lavender from MuRefuge is no longer making its way to this local ice cream shop. So about two thirds of the lavender bushes have also been removed from the septic mound, leaving enough for use here at MuRefuge: in salve for its healing properties, in closets and drawers to deter pesky insects, and to hang in the Great Room for its beauty and fragrance.
Another example of the knowledge gleaned from Permaculture:
chipping all of the rosemary and lavender bushes
provides an abundance of carbon for redistribution on the soil here at MuRefuge.
With the success of the Three Sisters (bean, corn, squash) planting experiment this year, more space is needed is needed to expand upon the learning. Where the rosemary has grown for 20 years fava beans will be planted atop the septic mound as a cover crop and for mulching. In several small areas about the septic mound native plants communities have been planted. The plants chosen will provide not only nectar for the native pollinators but over time will create beautiful ecological niches for a variety of native BEings who have inhabited this area long before humans.
"We abuse the land because we regard it as
a commodity belonging to us.
When we see land as a community to which
we may begin to use it with love and respect."
A Sand County Almanac (1949)
What has been called the Confetti Bed has likewise been replanted with native perennials and shrubs, a hedgerow of sorts. The borage, calendula, edible chrysanthemums, pineapple sage are grown for their edible flowers and are depicted below in a picture of the present miniaturized variation (minus the calendula) that is now by the veggie garden gate. The edible chrysanthemums are an annual. When seeds are scattered each Spring, the flowers not only have solid yellow petals, as pictured below, but white with yellow tips petals. None of these plants are native. They were chosen for their culinary use. The native pollinators seem to enjoy their nectar as well.
The blue, red, yellow plus the orange of the calendula makes a beautiful edible confetti for fruit or veggie salads, or for sprinkling onto a frosted cake or for scattering atop Summer sorbet or ice cream. The favor is subtle and the fragrance divine.
The hedgerow, of sorts, is comprised of, from West to East: