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4 Ways to Create Habitat for Native Bees

August 25, 2015 by Jo Ellen Roe
Swamp milkweed

A bee enjoys the nectar of a swamp milkweed — good for butterflies, too!

Listening to an episode of The Environment Report on NPR recently, I was surprised to hear these words:

“Scientists are looking to see if other bees can fill in the gaps left by honey bees.”

This idea made me laugh, if somewhat ruefully. The speaker seemed to be implying that the bees were just hanging around, waiting for humans to discover them, rather than simply going about the business of feeding themselves, as all bees and other pollinators do.

The story went on to explain that nearly 20,000 species of bees already do a great deal of pollinating. Most do not live in social hives, however, like honey bees. Rather, many of them are solitary. They nest in the ground or in hollow reeds, or even in a modern “bee hotel.”

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High Summer in Serendipity Gardens

July 27, 2015 by Jo Ellen Roe
Clematis on porch

Dark purple clematis are the July star of the front garden

It’s been a cool summer here in Michigan, with only three days so far with temperatures above 90 degrees. But it’s mid-July now, and the weather is beginning to heat up. I have enjoyed the cool weather, but a little heat seems quite welcome, both to me and to the plants in Serendipity Gardens. Speaking of these plants, here are a few that are adding their beauty to the garden.

On the front porch, dark purple clematis are still blooming profusely. Every year, the plant on one side grows more robustly than the plant on the other side. I am never sure why this is the case, and I have not found a solution. Perhaps I do not need to. They look gorgeous as is. What a welcoming site they are!

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A Review of A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures with Bumblebees

June 22, 2015 by Jo Ellen Roe

This image of a bee shows us how pollination happens.

Perhaps you, like me, want to learn more about bees, since you are doubtless hearing that they are in dire trouble. To do that, I read a book I came across called A Sting in the Tale, written by bumblebee expert Dave Goulson, professor of biology at Sussex University, and founder of Britain’s Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

The book opens with this lovely dedication: “For Seth, my youngest son. May there always be a flowery meadow and the sight and sound of buzzing bees for him to enjoy.”

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Lady’s Mantle: A Serendipity Gardens Favorite

June 1, 2015 by Jo Ellen Roe
Lady's mantle in spring

Pleated fans of Lady’s Mantle plants are always a joy to see in the spring.

When I first planted Serendipity Gardens, I had never heard of Lady’s Mantle (alchemilla mollis). Now, though, it’s hard to imagine not having these lovely plants.

Five Reasons I Love Lady’s Mantle

1. It has the cutest baby leaves ever — elegant little fans with pleats and a scalloped edge. In early spring,  Lady’s Mantle pokes up through the leaf litter, and is a sure sign that warmer days are on their way. For me, it is one of the first plants I go looking for in the spring, and I am always glad to see it.

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Five Good News Stories from the Environment

April 30, 2015 by Jo Ellen Roe
All 5 at slumber party

I read lots of articles about the environment, and sometimes I come away feeling depressed. The endless stream of issues seems so daunting. So many seem unwilling to admit we have a problem. I think of my sweet grandchildren and wonder what kind of world they will face.

To counter this feeling, I went looking for positive articles, and happily, I found quite a few. Here are summaries of and links to some of my favorites.

Ozone Layer Showing ‘Signs of Recovery’

The key point in this article is that the ozone layer is in the process of healing itself, and could perhaps return to its pre-1980 levels by mid-century. Complete healing may well not occur until even later, or even at all, but despite that caveat, this is good news. Even better news is perhaps the way in which this reversal of a problem occurred. People around the world agreed to ban man-made chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), used in spray cans and refrigerators, in the 1987 Montreal Protocol. Countries worked together.

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