Mason Bees in my garden

I enjoy nurturing the native bees and providing nesting homes for them. Since we have five fruit trees, four blueberry plants, 50 strawberries and multiplying raspberries, my garden keeps these bees working. I like them because they work in the rain, unlike other pollinators. I have some cute bee houses and some practical, jury rigged ones and they both do the job.

The wire one above is what I will explain. Mason Bee season here in the Puget Sound lowlands runs from about March 15 when you put them out until mid July when they are ready for storage. Recently I have learned about these predatory wasps that drill holes in the cardboard straws to lay their eggs, ultimately killing the developing Mason Bees. This year I am using white cardboard tubes placed in natural reeds, hoping to discourage the predatory wasps. The tan tubes with mud closures are the bees from 2017 and the white tubes are the nesting sites for 2018.


Spring love

There is never any question about me planting bulbs in the fall. It is such a hopeful part of gardening. Today it was 70* which we normally do not experience until mid April. Tomorrow the 50’s return.


I decided to start some tomato seeds on February 15th, a usual time for my area. My set up is not fancy, in my garage with a heat mat and fluorescent lights. I decided to try one seed per cell this year with 2/3 potting mix and 1/3 seed starting mix on top of that in every cell. This year I have some old faithful favorites and several new varieties courtesy of Victory Seeds and the author Craig LeHoullier. I won the book in a contest and was given seeds and a gift certificate as a bonus.

Here is my 2/15 seed list with the number started:

  1. Sunsugar-6
  2. Sun Gold-6
  3. Sweet Million-9
  4. Chocolate Cherry-6
  5. Costoluso Genovese-4
  6. Dwarf Arctic Rose-4
  7. Dwarf Fred’s Tie Dye-4
  8. Dwarf Tamunda Red-4
  9. Morgage Lifter -2
  10. Brandywine Sudduth strain-2
  11. Dwarf Jade Beauty-2

You might be wondering, how much space do I dedicate to growing tomatoes? I grow Ten to twelve in a raised bed. I grow tomato seedlings for myself and give the remainder to the Central Valley Garden Club for their May 5th sale.

In the week since I started the seeds we have had below freezing overnight temps for the past three nights and a 20 hour power outage! Just when I thought I would have to start over, I see germination! This season my blog will follow these seedlings along their way.

The plants just keep getting better, and there was the wildlife!

Background information from Wikipedia:
Telopea truncata, commonly known as the Tasmanian waratah, is a plant in the family Proteaceae. It is endemic to Tasmania where it is found on moist acidic soils, similar to Western Washington west of the Cascades.  

The flower heads, known as inflorescences, are terminal—that is, they arise on the ends of small branches—and are surrounded by small inconspicuous hairy bracts.

Lots of space needed for this beauty! 

Another noteworthy specimen plant in Dan Hinkley’s garden is rhodocoma capensis plant from South Africa. This plant grows in the USDA zones 8-10. Dan said when we get an occasional snowfall the plant will go flat due to the weight of the snow, but will bounce back after snowmelt. We saw several varieties of this plant thriving in his garden. 

More unique plants 

One of several focal points in the Hinkley garden is a Dove tree. Dan explained that it was planted by previous gardener before he owned the property. The plant is originally from China and the the “doves” are actually white bracts.

To learn more about this rare plant collector follow these links:

Dan’s web presence
Monrovia Dan Hinkley collection