BeBe Bee Bee-atrice Born on #Tweehive day
I’m turning sweet on you, my friends, here in my untidy parc sauvage,
my feathered orchard, my alive-with-critters compound.
Honey, you are a busy growing part of my French world
and the food we grow to enjoy here at Camont.
Within one season of changing my garden habits, Camont has transformed from a tidy, neatly edged ‘ Two-acre Park’ to a home forager’s paradise. A dynamic counterpart to the humm & buzz, bird twitter soundtrack of late summer, I now share Camont with chickens, ducks, cat, dog and honey bees as well as hungry students. This is what I did ( or didn’t do…) to transform a tidy and quiet garden to a haven for wildlife and not-so-wild food.
- banished all use of weedkiller like Round-up
- bought a great long handled, open hoe to weed
- left the brush pile from late winter prunings instead of burning them. results: we welcomed a hedgehog into the rose garden.
- created a ‘no-go’ zone around Camont’s border- letting the nettles, dandelions, purslane & wild mint run rampant.
- seeded an old variety of deep red clover in fallow areas of the potager (I’ll do more of this next spring)
- stopped mowing the ‘parc’ area in favor of letting it naturalize. Results were a handful on new wild cherry trees and walnut trees sprouting up.
- bought a scythe- way quieter than a weed-whacker.
- planted a new entrance orchard by the drive with undergrowth of purslane and other ground cover.
- let everything in the garden go to seed in it’s own turn. Results: honey bees on the chives, lettuce and fennel seed heads.
- encouraged small groups of feverfew and borage to spread out.
- created a small pond for the ducks and bees to use. Result: every visitor got involved helping to shore up the banks and outwit the chickens heavy scratching.
- weeded less, enjoyed more.
I learned to see the garden as a process rather than a final outcome. When one of my well-meaning but clueless grown students suggested I might ‘hire’ someone to do it all for me, I just had to shake my head. She just didn’t get that the time I spend mowing, weeding, wandering, smelling, planting, and harvesting comes back to me many fold in my uber-awareness of my home and how I live. Now when I see a patch of wild mint, I look for a working bee, and think of iced mint tea with honey. Before I clear a pile of branches, I make an ‘Andy Goldsworthy’ shrine to a possible nest for teh slug eating hedgehogs. And most of all I look… look hard to see if the bees have enough flowering for food and what I can let go or plant for next year to encourage my first honey efforts.
Fall is a wonderful time to ‘tidy up’ the garden…but not too much, please. For more tips on relaxing your garden…click here and support the #Tweehive swarming this Saturday sept 5th in your own Bee-autiful way on twitter. Tweet me at @katedecamont.