On a recent cold sunny Sunday in Groton, Tom Sullivan of Pollinators Welcome shared his vast knowledge of pollinators and related topics in the lecture “Attracting Pollinators to your Garden,” co-sponsored by the Groton Garden Club and the Nashua River Watershed Association, and funded by the Groton Commissioners of Trust Funds.
Tom Sullivan, M.A.L.D (Master of Arts in Landscape Design), owner of Pollinators Welcome, designs, consults, lectures, writes, educates, and develops products for pollinators and their habitats. He focuses on native bee proliferation by increasing nesting sites, meadow grasses and flowers, and connectivity among habitat fragments across the landscape.
He discussed different types of bees and their habits and habitats in great detail. Our primary pollinators are bees, both the bumble and honey varieties, and also include certain wasps, flies, and to a lesser extent, hummingbirds and butterflies. There are 5,000 bee species in North America, and 20,000 species on planet Earth.
Bumble bees are native to Massachusetts, but in recent years the number of bumble bee species has dropped from 17 to 12. Since it is the bees’ work, or pollination, that helps to create some of our food and many of our flowers, it is important to encourage bees to live on your property. Here are some ways to encourage their habitation: Since they mainly nest in the ground, or in holes in trees, leave some dead brush on the ground or a dead tree for them to nest in. Mow only paths through your grass, not the whole lawn, thereby leaving a meadow with tall plants, in which pollinators and others species can nest. Structural diversity (or variety in the size, shape, and texture) in plants creates niches in which bees will live. They also follow the scent of rodents, and like to nest where rodents live or have lived.
Planting pollinator-friendly native plants is an important way to encourage bees’ habitation. Please click on this link for Tom’s list of Native plants for pollinators
Tom also discussed the threats to the bees’ existence, including:
- Loss of their habitat through land development or other causes;
- Loss of native floral diversity, caused by excessive planting of exotic flower species, which don’t provide as much pollen for bees, or by excessive destruction of native flower species;
- Any abrupt climate change, which disrupts bloom time, and therefore also bee emergence; and
- The harmful effects of pesticides and insecticides on bees’ ability to pollinate.
Some interesting bee facts:
Pollination helps to create food; an estimated 33% of the food we eat is created indirectly through pollination; and 90% of the vitamin-C-rich foods are also provided through pollination.
Bees live only 4-6 weeks as adults, and emerge at various times in the spring.
90% of bee species are solitary dwellers.
Honey bees are not native to Massachusetts.
Bees sometimes buzz-pollinate in the key of C, in this way: their whole bodies vibrate to that key while they are inside a flower. The movement from the vibration causes their bodies to become covered with pollen, which they then share with another plant. While observing this process one can enjoy not only the beauty of the bees and the flowers, the movement of the bees, the scent of the flowers, the knowledge that nature is working to benefit food and flower production, but can also hear sunny, warm music in the key of C.
Please click this link for additional photos from the lecture: Pollinators_Welcome_Pictures
Please click this link to Tom’s website: PollinatorsWelcome.com
Submitted by Connie S
Groton Garden Club members filled the conference room at the Center Fire Station to learn about Groton’s Natural Resources from Groton Conservation Commission Administrator Nikolis Gualco. The Conservation Commission manages over 1000 acres of town-owned land, promotes and develops natural resources and protects the watershed in our area. He noted that 50 percent of the land within Groton is protected.
The Conservation Commission is also a first stop for anyone wishing to perform work within the identified buffer zones along wetlands areas.
Among the many concerns of the Commission, Gualco warned that one is the invasive plants that are creeping into private and public lands. These include black swallow-wort, a member of the milkweed family. Unlike our native milkweed, Swallow wort is toxic to the monarch butterfly. Another invasive of concern is bittersweet, which strangles many trees around town.
Attracting Pollinators Lecture is this Sunday, February 10 at 2:00 p.m. Advance Registration is suggested to ensure a seat. Details (location and how to register) are in the poster, below.
With a week of wintry weather ahead, we can all use a reminder that spring will come and that we can grow beautiful flowers in our own homes to relieve the barren winter. There are lectures to help us plan for warmer weather, flower shows to give us a taste of spring, and orchid shows with exotic and tropical displays. Below is a list of a few shows that are good for a day trip from Groton or suitable for a get-away of a few days. All of the flower and orchid shows have displays, vendors selling plants and plant-inspired items, and educational lectures. Check the linked websites for more information about each of the shows.
January 26-27 Cape & Islands Orchid Society Show
The Resort and Conference Center in Hyannis, 35 Scudder Ave., Hyannis, MA
Theme: Victorian Beauty
February 8-10 New Hampshire Orchid Society Show
Courtyard Marriott, 2200 Southwood Dr., Nashua, NH
Theme: February Follies
February 10 2:00 p.m. Attracting Pollinators: What Plants Where
You won’t need to travel far for this one. The lecture is presented by the Groton Commissioners of Trust Funds and co-sponsored by the Groton Garden Club and the Nashua River Watershed Association. Our annual lecture has been moved to a new, and larger venue, at the Groton Country Club, 94 Lovers Lane, Groton, MA.
For more information about this lecture, check the Lecture: Attracting Pollinators page under our Events section.
February 23-24 Amherst Orchid Society Show
Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School, 80 Locust St., Northampton, MA
March 2-10 Philadelphia Flower Show
Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th & Arch Streets, Philadelphia, PA
March 13-17 Boston Flower & Garden Show
Seaport World Trade Center, 200 Seaport Boulevard, Boston, MA
March 16-17 Nutmeg State Orchid Society Show
Theme: Come See our Bloomers
West Hartford Conference Center, 50 S Main St, West Hartford, CT
April 5-7 Southeastern Pennsylvania Orchid Society Show
Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Avenue, Oaks, PA
And, if you are intrigued by either of the shows in the Philadelphia area, and can’t get there until later in the spring, then you might want to visit the Barnes Foundation. The Barnes’ art collection has moved into downtown Philadelphia, in a space that nearly replicates the Merion home in which Albert Barnes carefully displayed an extensive collection of art. From May to September the grounds of the estate in Merion are open as an Arboretum. It might be worth a call to discover whether the greenhouse is open to visitors during the winter, as it was when the art collection was housed in Merion. The greenhouse contains a variety of exotic and interesting plants from the Calla (pictured below) to orchids, camellias, and others.
We hope you are inspired by this list and are able to visit one or more of these events. It can be delightful to enjoy the smells of earth and flowers on a winter’s day.
Submitted by Lori H.
As a new gardening year begins, the following flower adventure might help you dream of the summer to come.
On a glorious sunny July day, I set out with my sister, cousin, and nieces to Cedar Circle Farm in Thetford, Vermont, to pick flowers for my niece Sarah’s wedding. Cedar Circle Farm is a certified organic vegetable and berry farm that also offers flower-picking parties for weddings. The flower-picking season begins in late June and continues through late September. For the early blooms, growing begins in February and continues throughout the spring and summer. The fields are constantly being replenished with seasonal blooms to ensure that prospective brides will have a variety of blossoms and greens to choose from.
With scissors and bucket in hand, I found myself in flower nirvana as I strolled among the dozens of flower rows, clipping away at standouts like zinnia, dahlia, scabiosa, cosmos, snapdragons, amaranthus, interesting Bells of Ireland, and ornamental grasses. Just when I felt my bucket was full I would find other eye-catching blossoms and keep picking! Besides every possible color of zinnia, I found the amaranthus to be very interesting, with its cascading growth pattern and rich rosy tones. It made a beautiful addition to the wedding arbor decoration. Another favorite was a sweet variety of scabiosa called the “Pincushion Drumstick.” This variety maintains its color and shape for a long while, and is perfect for dried arrangements. Click the link at the bottom to see a picture of it.
We collected 10 buckets of flowers and got straight to work. In 3 hours, we created 12 bouquets, 12 boutonnieres, 5 flower crowns (one of which was for Sarah and Tim’s dog) and enough ball jar vases to decorate the reception venue. Fortunately, Cedar Circle Farm was able to store the flower creations and deliver them to the wedding location at Lareau Farm in Waitsfield, Vermont. They arrived as fresh as they were the day we picked them, which was 2 days prior to the wedding!
While the wedding was lovely, the flower-picking experience was the highlight for me. I don’t know if it was the fresh mountain air, the blue sky, the flowers, or the bonding with my sister and nieces that sparked our creativity, but I have to believe it was the ideal recipe for a picture-perfect day.
Do not miss the other glorious Field of Flowers pictures; please click here.