The Beauty of Pollination

If You Plant It and It Blooms, They Will Come

My Aunt Chris sent this video my way. She has one of the liveliest backyards ever…full of blooms and wonder. I’ve always loved thinking of her out puttering in her greenhouse and her gardens. It’s a trait shared by my mother, her sister—a trait inherited directly from their father. And although I consider myself late to the party, I can say that this dormant green-thumb obsession has now blossomed in me, too.

In the video, please note that the common denominator in all this wonder is flowers. If you plant it and it blooms, they will come.

Mark Fisher at the Zoo farm

A Beekeeper, a Farmer, and a Man with Big Ideas Walk into a Farm. . .

List some of your favorite things. Go ahead. Here are mine:

  1. Honeybees
  2. Prairie flowers and prairie grasses
  3. Organic vegetable gardens
  4. Farming
  5. Tractors
  6. People who have grand ideas
  7. People who are not fearful of those grand ideas
  8. People who make things happen because they say “If not me, who? If not now, when?”
  9. The Cincinnati Zoo
  10. Grassroots movements
  11. Green Bean Delivery
  12. Etc.

There might possibly be a movement afoot, Reader. There might possibly be an exciting, easy partnership developing. Among people who are the kind of people who simply get along and trust one another and want to work together. For a greater good than if we worked alone.

This movement of like-minded and why-not-us people reminds me of what’s happening in the once-neglected space behind Eli’s BBQ. We’re all sort of squatting together in an urban lot…the gardener, the orchardist, and the beekeeper. And it’s so awesome we can hardly stand it.

This new movement will be organized yet flexible. We’ll think about it. But we’re moving forward as we think. And we’re not squatting. We belong here. It’s all arranged.

Mark Fisher at the Zoo farm

 

Ben, Casey, and Kevin of Green Bean Delivery

 

Prairie flowers

We Need Wild in our Lives

 

Prairie flowers

Reader, as you know by now, wild is better for bees. And when I say “wild,” I mean a wild habitat. Wildness. Wild flowers.

Manicured lawns have absolutely nothing to offer the bees.

Those bees that I keep in neighborhoods with manicured lawns—those lawns sprayed to remove all hint of dandelion and clover and gorgeous weeds—starve. The bees starve because after the trees lose their blooms and leaf out in the spring, nothing remains on which the bees can forage. Summer and autumn and winter become a prolonged dearth.

Those bees living in areas with wild prairie and meadows, those hives that have access to three-season forage, thrive.

I drive through my neighborhood and I see nothing but manicured lawns. I live in a beautiful, affluent neighborhood. One known for its stewardship of green spaces. But I’m coming to realize that my affluent neighbors and I have been neglectful. We’ve neglected the wild. We keep the wild too much at bay. Much to the detriment of our wildlife. And our wild lives. We need our wild lives.

So, this year, Reader, I’m on a bandwagon.

I plan to gather my affluent and influential clients…those who have lawn to spare. Those who hire landscapers to keep their expansive lawns nice and green. Those who can afford to do what I propose. I want us to meet together with representatives of Ohio Prairie Nursery and with our landscapers and with our city council representatives. I want us to begin devoting parts of our lawn to wildness.

Watch us, Reader. We’re gonna transform our lives. And it will be gorgeous.

 

 

Brazee Street Studios: Prairie Flowers and Honeybee Hives

Give Me the Wild Life

Brazee Street Studios: Prairie Flowers and Honeybee Hives

 

Reader, some of my bees are starving while other hives are packed with honey.

The difference is in the wildness. No…not in the wildness of the bees but in the wildness of where they forage.

The starving bees are located in suburbs and on big farms. Two locations which oddly enough actually have one big thing in common…they’re both boring. Boring to death. Sorry to say this.

If you and your neighbors love nice green grass, and if your grass is treated with herbicides and if the lawn-service truck routinely sprays and if you think clover and dandelions reflect that you’re a bad homeowner and if you keep all of your flower beds perfectly groomed and free of weeds, then the bees in your trees are probably starving. Because this is a sickly idea of beautiful. It’s not our fault. We bought into this idea that thin is beautiful. Not only when it comes to our bodies but also when it comes to our lawns and our lives.

I am getting off that stupid train. Hear me.

And those farms that grow one crop…say, soybeans or corn…and it hurts me to say this because I love corn so much…but that single crop is a bee killer. It’s not the crop that’s bad, it’s the singleness of it. Monoculture farming is unbelievably boring.

The bees in my care that are rolling in honey live in wild…and I mean WILD places. Some of these wild places were intentionally planted. Some of these wild places are intentionally managed to keep them natural. But some of these wild places are completely accidental.

Frankly, Reader, I think I’m about to go off the deep end into this wildness.

The bees doing best live near and forage in

  • Community gardens. These gardens are diverse and wonderfully wonderfully wonderful and there are weeds and wild flowers growing between bed and at the margins of the gardens. There is a thrilling energy in community gardens, and THIS IS WONDERFUL FOR BEES! Also, Reader, bees are wonderful for the gardens. This is the miracle of it.
  • County parks. These parks (such as California Woods Nature Preserve) have trails and managed meadows filled with wildflowers, and the bees revel in those meadows. REVEL! The meadows receive full sun and are unmown havens in which natural prairie flowers grow all season long. And the bees in these parks go like gangbusters. Thank God for spaces in which good park systems (such as the Hamilton County Parks) thoughtfully steward the land in their care.
  • Downtown. Because downtown is a wonderful mix…including some wild areas along the margins. People who live downtown don’t have grassy lawns and they don’t hire lawn services. People who live downtown have wild garden spaces. And vacant lots. In which community gardens sometimes pop up under the wonderful stewardship of people (such as Catherine Comello Stehlin) who care.
  • Urban neighborhoods. Take Oakley (near downtown Cincinnati), for example. Because some people such as Sandy Gross and John Hutton and their creative friends know that it’s best not to mow. So they plant wild prairie flowers and plan Monarch way stations. And they care how it looks, so it’s planned to be gorgeous and wild and save money and save the environment and save the bees and the butterflies. And it’s drop-dead gorgeous wherever these people are, so we should all do what they do. I plan to follow their examples.
  • Go to Brazee Street Studios…to the parking area behind the studios (on Enyart Street) and take a look. THAT, my friend, is beauty.

Reader, I am the steward of a one-acre yard. In a nice suburb. And it is almost all mown. And the bees that share this yard with me are begging me to change it. And I’ve learned to listen to both the bees and my gut…so I intend to allow some wildness into my yard and thus into my life. The bees in my care here are whispering to me that I’ve grown dull. And that it’s high time I strike out into something unpredictable.