With honeybee populations declining in recent years, gardeners have been searching for ways to encourage other pollinators to stop by and help out. One pollinator I hear mentioned more and more often is mason bees, and seed catalogs are increasingly offering all kinds of mason bee nesting boxes. They’re cute, these little bee condo things with all those little round holes. So I got to thinking I should buy one.
But then I stopped myself, wondering if it was okay to just introduce mason bees to my garden, my neighborhood, Minnesota? I emailed Jeff Hahn, a helpful entomologist with the University of Minnesota Extension Service, and he said he didn’t know a lot about mason bees. But he recommended I talk with Joel Gardner, a grad student who is studying them.Read More»
If you’ve never checked out Mary Gray’s garden blog, Black Walnut Dispatch, do it today. Just do it. No, of course you don’t have time, but do it anyway. Smart and funny—really, really funny, Mary Gray is a landscape designer in Burke Virginia, who just happens to have a creative writing background, too.
Her most recent post, “So I’ve Ripped Out My Lawn, Now What Do I Do,” takes turf grass re-purposing to a whole new level. And here I’ve been recommending people just flip old turf over to create berms.
There are people who dream about what they would like to do with their lives in a perfect world. And there are people who just go ahead and do whatever it is they’re dreaming about, knowing that the world will never be perfect so they’d better just go for it. Karla Pankow is in the latter group. And if you’ve ever met her, you know that’s not surprising. As hooky as it sounds, if positive energy could take human form, it would be Karla.
Not long ago, Karla was willing herself up out of bed every morning to go to work as a pharmaceutical sales rep. After seven years, she was beyond disillusioned with the profession and thinking about how to escape. And then it happened. She was laid off in the midst of yet another company restructuring. Today, less than two years later, Karla and her partner, Elizabeth Millard (a longtime writer friend of mine), are running a small organic farm they named Bossy Acres.
I wrote about Bossy Acres, and their recent move into the greenhouses of Grow! Twin Cities in this week’s issue of the online magazine, The Line. Grow! Twin Cities doesn’t have a website up yet or I’d post the link. But they do have a Facebook page if you’d like to follow what they’re up to.Read More»
I have no idea what I was thinking trying to brighten up the winter by planting paperwhites in bowls filled with colorful glass marbles and water all these years. Yes, sure, the flowers are nice enough. But that sickly sweet smell they give off is worse than being trapped with a bunch of over-perfumed grannies in a hot elevator.
That’s why this year, even though red is my least-favorite color, I brought home a couple of big-ass amaryllis bulbs and gave them a try. (There are other colors, just not at my local garden center on the day that I thought I must buy some.) Wow! I’m going with these every year from now on. Not only do they have no smell, these long-blooming flowers—four from each bulb—are huge. And I have to say that even midlife-crisis-sports-car red has definitely lifted my spirits during this cold, gray stretch of the season.Read More»
I’ve lived in Minnesota for more than two decades. But I admit I had no idea that frost went by all sorts of different names until a couple of years ago when our local paper mistakenly proclaimed that the world was covered in “whore frost” and we should all get outside and see it.
Who wouldn’t want to see that? Turns out, they were talking about hoar frost, which is not anything like the aforementioned frost, I’d imagine.
Hoar frost occurs on winter nights when water vapor (fog, for example) touches very cold surfaces and freezes. Words can’t come close to describing the storybook beauty of hoar frost.
So, as always, when I woke up to a hoar-frost-covered wonderland last Saturday, I grabbed my camera and snapped a few photos. Enjoy!