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.

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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 50ā€™s return.

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 terminalā€”that is, they arise on the ends of small branchesā€”and are surrounded by small inconspicuous hairy bracts.

Lots of space needed for this beauty!Ā 

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 plantsĀ 

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 ā€œdovesā€ are actually white bracts.

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

Dan’s web presence
Monrovia Dan Hinkley collection

Plants for Pollinators Among the Peas

Every fall I sow crimson clover cover crop to avoid rain compacted soil in spring. Most of the crimson clover gets turned in around February 15th a few weeks before sowing Cascadia Sugar Snap Peas and Oregon Sugar Snap II. I always leave a few of these plants to get to the bloom stage and hope that the bloom time coincides with the pea blooms. This year I have seen the first pea blooms today from seeds sown March 14. That date is several weeks later than usual in my Western Washington raised beds but this past winter was a record wet winter and I feared planting earlier would result in rotting seeds. I am happy that I waited this year because now the peas are ready to bloom. 

Winter weather has us shivering

The Pacific Northwest is in one of the coldest winters of the last decade. Last year was the winter that wasn’t. This year my ground is frozen and the air temps have gone down to 20- 29* F overnight for the past two weeks. I do still have Snowdrops trying to push up and bloom and a few Helebores getting ready to bloom also. I think a weather shift is coming however. We expect rain and relatively warm weather later this week.