At the end of January, Home Publications contacted me about featuring my garden and lessons learned from terraforming my small space, focusing on cut flowers, edibles, and supporting pollinators. After saying yes, I quickly realized I did not have enough pictures of myself amongst my flowers and vegetable plants. The perpetual gray hue of winter in upstate New York has set in, and the chance of capturing a magazine-worthy photo of myself in my garden with snow glistening in the sun seemed bleak. Even though you will find me in my yard during the warmer months, 100% of the time, when I am not wearing my registered nurse and nurse educator hat at a local pediatric hospital, there are more pictures of plants than myself in my photo albums.
To say that gardening saved my life is an understatement. Gardening became a mindful practice, a space for reflection, understanding, and a place to remain connected with me and those I had lost personally and professionally. It became my healing center from the unspeakable experiences only another nurse would understand by looking into my eyes. Most importantly, it gave me a creative outlet, a way to express myself and bring joy to myself (and others) by painting my landscape with plants.
In the spring of 2020, the transformation of our yard to a garden (a yarden) truly began. I delved deep into resources such as the Monroe Country Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the U.S. Forest Service, the Department of Agriculture, Pollinator Partnership, Beesponsible, and many books. I learned and continue to learn more about bees and the pollination process and gain further understanding of the differences between native, nativar, cultivar, and hybrid plants.
It's interesting to know that not all bees make nests and honey. There are over 4000 species of bees in North America, and many live in the ground! While some vegetable crops do not need pollinators to help them grow the parts we love to eat, many rely on pollinators to visit them to produce fruit. When bees collect pollen (and nectar) from blossoms, some pollen from the male part of the flower (the stamen) sticks to the hair of the bee. As bees go from bloom to bloom, pollen rubs off on the female part of the flower (the pistil). This transfer of pollen fertilizes the flower, leading to new flowers, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
Bees are vital to our ecosystem. With a desire to surround my home with flowers, grow food outside my door, and knowledge that bees are essential to creating food for humans and wildlife to survive, I set the intention to support pollinators in my garden and share what I learn along the way.
Selecting a mix of annuals and perennials that bloom from early spring to fall and companion plants for your vegetables is just as important as considering the classification of plants and your commitment to being pesticide free. Spend your time in the off-season to learn which flowering plants are native to your region. A native plant has occurred naturally within that particular region or habitat without human introduction. Research evidence shows that native plants provide superior support and are the preferred source of nectar by native bees. Just like a garbage plate is better in Rochester and chicken wings in Buffalo- you would want to seek out these items where they originated for the most satisfying flavors.
Check out Mostly Perennials contribution to the March/April 2023 edition of Home Rochester, produced by Genesee Valley Publications, on pages 16 through 17, by clicking on the picture below.
Be on the lookout for our next blog post where we will share more about the differences between native, nativar, cultivar, and hybrid plants.