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Gardens in Bloom   The Lavender is in full bloom and we are beginning to harvest. Although our Lavender Thyme event was a week later than usual we were lucky and the bloomtime for the majority of our varieties were fabulous.  

The Grosso is to be cut this weekend and we are filling orders for Lavender bunches at the present time. email me at beagleridge@gmail.com if you want us to send you several bunches. They are $5.00 a bunch and the fragrance will last for ages.  When the lavender is first harvested it looks terrible- no worries give it a couple of weeks. At this time of year the heat will spur lots of new growth and it will look good again shortly. If you have questions as to how and when to cut your Lavender send me an email. Lilies, Daylilies and phlox are now coming into their own and there is a full color pallet in the gardens. With all this color and heat the butterflies are busy as are a myriad of pollinators. Guests are surprised to see so many butterflies, bees and beneficials in the gardens. I tell them stop spraying and they will come and the proof is in the gardens. 

 
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is on the left and the monarch is above. Come see how many different species you can identify in the gardens. We have identified over 35 this summer alone.   

An Insectary  is an area  of plantings which attract natural predators to your garden. Although this may seem counter to your thinking, allowing “Good” bugs to fight the “Bad” bugs is the way nature intended. Insects are our pollinators and by providing habitat, shelter and alternative food sources you can attract these beneficial insects to your garden. They can then do battle with those pests you do not want in the garden, aphids, scale, thrips, whitefly, mites , even grubs and slugs.

Aphid predators such as lady beetles need the pests to be present in order to reproduce, since their larvae are even more ferocious than they are. These pests will remain on the desired plant in your mini insectary yet provide an ideal breeding ground for the associated predators and parasites. Although Lady bug beetles may be purchased through the mail, once released they seldom stay in the garden unless you have an unusually large number of aphids to eat. Most gardens have some lady bugs to start with if you haven’t been eliminating them in your quest to eradicate the problem pests.

To establish an Insectary  plant a “weed patch” somewhere in an out of the way place or add selective plants into your already established gardens. Either way will be a benefit to your garden and can eliminate pesticide usage. The plot does not have to be large, just big enough to hold 6-7 varieties of plants which attract insects, ours is on the site of our former compost pile and contains Feverfew, Garlic, Echinacea, Fennel, Tansy, Fleabane, Mullein, Chamomile and Yarrow. Now that it is full bloom, the blooms are covered with beneficial and predatory insects, ready to go to battle in the garden. This is not a quick fix and does require some patience but is a healthy way to garden.

In very simple terms, insectary plants are those plants which attract beneficial insects.  Beneficial insectary plants are intentionally planted in a garden to increase the pollen and nectar resources which are required by “Good” bugs which are the enemy of “Bad Bugs”.  In addition the Good bugs assist in pollination while “eating” in the garden.

“Good” bugs include ladybeetles, ground beetles, hoverflies parasitic wasps and bees. In addition, lizards, spiders, toads, insect eating birds and even hummingbirds are beneficial in your garden. Beneficial insects can be up to 10 times more plentiful when you have an insectary planting on your property.  Many of these plants can be interspersed among your existing plants; many probably already are in your garden today. The insects which visit will help other nearby plantings too.

 

Although many of these plants are considered weeds; Queen Annes’ Lace, and Wild carrot, a majority are herbs which we desire in the garden. Fennel, Lovage, Angelica, Cilantro, Dill, and Parsley are some of the most common and they are also used as host plants for caterpillars. These plants bloom with an Umbel shaped bloom, many tiny blooms, attract a diverse group of parasitic wasps.  Clover, wild yarrow and even rue also attract predatory insects (those that hunt down their prey). Creeping plants such as Thyme, Chamomile and low growing mints, provide shelter for beneficial as well as ground beetles. Composite flowers, daisy like blooms, Tansy, Feverfew, Echinacea flowers are great for pollinators and will also attract predatory wasps, hoverflies and robber flies and mints. Parasitic wasps will attack caterpillars and grubs to feed t heir young while predatory and parasitic flies will feed on leaf hoppers and other Bad bugs. 

 
I realize some of you are now shaking your head. I suggest you plant host plants to attract caterpillars, now I suggest planting plants which will attract a wasp which may eat the caterpillars. Yes, I am, there is a happy median. If every caterpillar made it to an adult butterfly there would never be enough nectar for them anyway.  By allowing nature to keep things in check you  may lose a few butterflies but you will have a healthier ecosystem in our gardens. Since none of us can control things on a planet scale, let’s start one yard at a time. 

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Blooming Bucks
We have had lots of interest in our Blooming Bucks , but also some questions. So...  Pick up a Blooming Buck card and start spending; for every $10.00 we will punch the card. After $50.00 in purcheses you will receive 5% off all future purchases. As you enjoy the savings you will work towards your next threshold, $100.00. At this time This will continue until you get to the largest savings rate of 25 %.  Purchasers on the web can also get this deal, email me at bealeridge@gmail.com and I will send you an ecard.



 
Thanks for your continued support   Gregg and I appreciate your continued supprt and appreciate you sharing successes in your own gardens. Most of the fun of gardening is sharing. Please continue to send us pictures.  Rememeber we will be closed except by appointment during the month of August and will re-open in Sept with weekly classes and plants for fall planting.  
Happy gardening,  Ellen and Gregg