This is one of those rare weeks when I have no new artwork to show you (although I am working on remedying that) and no new art news to share with you (although hopefully next week I’ll have something news-y to post).
Since I’m completely art-less, I figured I’d get snap happy in the garden and show off a few things that are blooming and buzzing, and providing some inspiration for future art projects.
First Stop on the Tour: Take That You Vile Slugs!
Since I have a rather shady garden, I have to make the most out of every millimeter of sunny space I can find. So, not only do we have raised beds for veggies lining our driveway, but the south side of my house is also decorated with a raised bed and plenty of pots.
Sadly, at the beginning of the month, I mistakingly thought it was spring (silly me) and set about to planting all the veggies and fruits I’d started from seed. Days later, not only did the Portland area get slapped with a freakish cold spell, but the slugs made a buffets of all my babies. Once warm weather was back in the forecast, I had to resort to getting new veggie plants from the nursery.
I was NOT going let those little mucous-y bastards get my plants this time. You might spot a few plastic cups in the photo above…they’re filled with beer since slugs would much rather have a bubbly brew than a salad (but really, who wouldn’t?). The slugs fall in and drown, and I celebrate their drunken ways…while downing the rest of the can of beer myself.
Second Stop: A Floral Fashion Show
While the slugs are busy with their deadly drinks, many famous floral celebrities are starting to make a showing in other parts of my garden.
There’s Ms. Clematis who gets a bit extravagant with the purple frills…
Then there’s the more subdued, but equally frill-loving Iceland Poppy…
Although taking a risk in bright yellow, Gazania Daisy keeps things modern with crisp lines….
Next on the stage and opting for simplistic beauty is Ms. Geranium…
But wait, who’s that? As ever, it’s the show-stopping Peony who has cleverly accented her super bright pink with the pale stripes of oat grass….
And finally, waiting in the wings for her moment to delight, is Red Currant whose clusters of berries are just starting to ripen…
Final Stop: A Beastie Check on My Bees
With the super cold spring, I haven’t been able to check on my bees. Each time I thought I’d be able to, we’d get another dose of winter. The bees however, kept doing their thing and a couple weeks ago my hive swarmed not once, but twice.
Swarming is a totally natural thing for bees to do. It usually means a hive is heathy enough to make a new queen and then split – typically about half the hive will take off with the old queen. Beekeepers don’t like swarming because the bees, so they can survive until they find a new home, leave with their bellies full of honey. To keep their honey production at maximum, some beekeepers will kill old queens and install a new queen to avoid swarming.
Since I get more than enough honey from my hive without even trying and because I think it’s a good thing for healthy bees to breed and spread naturally (as opposed to being purchased and trucked up from bee breeders hundreds of miles away), I’m not overly concerned about swarming. I do do some hive management to reduce swarming mainly because I don’t want my neighbors to freak out.
But really there’s nothing to be freaked out about. Honeybees who are swarming have no home to defend and so are at their most docile – this is why you can “scoop up” a swarm of bees from a tree, put them in a box, and take them home with you…assuming you have a hive to put them in, of course.
Anyway, long story short, I wanted to get in to the hive to say hi to my bees, move some bars around to give them a bit more space, and make sure everyone looked happy and healthy. Last week the weather cooperated and I was finally able to do so. The ladies, also happy with the arrival of nice weather, were super mellow and didn’t pay any attention to me.
Since he’d been pestering me for weeks about it, I called Finn McSpool over to try his
hand paw at beekeeping. The jacket didn’t quite fit, but he’s a brave fellow and said he’d try without it. He was a little leery at first, staying at the very edge, but soon he was leaning in for a closer look.
How about you? Any garden misadventures? Have a favorite plant that is showing off? Ever consider keeping bees? Go on and share your thoughts!