Like most gardeners in the Midwest I have been waiting, and waiting and waiting for the cold damp rainy, even freezy, Spring to give way to a more mild mannered, happy to be here, Spring. Finally we have it! So it’s been a mad dash to get the goods in the gardens. That doesn’t mean the weather has been completely cooperative, but we’re a hardy group with visions of tomatoes and peppers in our heads.
LAST SUMMER’S BOUNTY
Last year was the first year at the Oak Lawn Community Garden. As one of the Master Gardener’s, I was recruited to design and help install the pollinator beds. Both are shaped like butterflies, the suggestion of a 13 year old young lady helping us on our big build out day.
Here are photos of the progression of the beds last year.
These beds were at one time a little league baseball field behind a middle school, making it an unfriendly compacted mix of clay and sand. Nothing a ton of peat moss and compost couldn’t fix.
Last week we picked the hottest day in May in Illinois since records have been kept to weed the beds and put in some Zinnias (pollinators love these easy to grow annuals). Why did we pick the hottest day? Plainly we did not think it would be 90 degrees at 9:00 am. Here are the photos.
I was pleasantly surprised. The garden is full and on it’s way to lush. The cascading planter display in the middle is new. Parsley has been planted in the pots because caterpillars like the fragrant, bitter herb. The planters were put in just two weeks ago and caterpillars have already nestled in the parsley.
The perennial Salvia is the tall purple plant. The bees, moths and flies treat this plant like a busy high rise apartment building. It is loaded with life.
The perennial in this photo is Chamomile. It is self-sowing, meaning if you let it go to seed it will plant itself for you. It acts like a wild flower in that it doesn’t show up in the same place every time. It goes where the breeze, or the birds, take it. This chamomile came from our herb bed at the other side of the garden. Chamomile is used as a medicinal calming herb, mostly as a tea.
(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/) I take my straight, but most people I know need some honey with their chamomile.
The plethera of pollinators (say that 3 times fast after a cup of chamomile) will insure our vegetable garden will be prolific. If you want your cucumbers, corn, and watermelon, to name just a few, to produce their fruit, then you need to welcome the pollinators.
Our goal for the Pollinator Garden this year is for it to be as colorful in August as it is in this Spring.