I finally got to read the Home section of the New York Times with my morning coffee. Sometimes I'm right on the cutting edge - who'd have guessed? According to an article by Anne Raver in this past Thursday's edition, ecologists are beginning to link the decline in bee population with the eradication of native plants. In research performed by Professor Gordon Frankie, an entomologist at the University of California, Berkeley, bees prefer to eat locally grown! Who knew? According to Professor Frankie, out of 1,000 plants surveyed, 50 were native plants. 80 percent of the bees counted were attracted to those native plants as opposed to only 10 percent of the bees who buzzed around the 950 non-natives.
The author's advice? "Don't be so quick to mow." Right on, sister. I don't have to be embarassed any more because I choose to relinquish my picture-perfect spring lawn to masses of life enhancing dandelions and wild violets. I'll have more cucumbers and tomatoes than my neighbors with their putting-green turf. I'll be harvesting baskets of green beans and salad vegetables while they're standing in line at the grocery store.
Okay, seriously. Tomatoes, peas and beans don't rely on bees for pollination but other crops like my cucumbers do. I don't use anything on my lawn and garden but organic products and the organic weed control hasn't been very effective. Maybe that's not so bad. The plan for this year is to add more native plants to my landscape. I have plenty of blackeyed susans because they self-sew. Other native plants suggested by the author are Joe-pye weed, coreopsis, penstemon, salvia, milkweed, spider flower, verbena lavender, basil, rosemary and borage. They're all going in the ground this year. Hopefully they're good companion plants to the dandelions and violets.