Compost Blog

Padded Drink

FOUND IN: Nature, The Farm on July 27, 2012

With the temperature index well over 100 degrees, I start to worry about the bees. Will they get enough water.


It is one of their most important collectables. Used in a variety of ways: diluting honey when producing larval food, dissolving crystallized honey and most importantly during this time of year-cooling the hive through a process of evaporative cooling. They collect the water, placing droplets around the hive. While fanning the air in large groups, it causes the hive to cool.


Today I noticed them using the lily pads in the Koi pond as landing sites to collect water. Foragers will mark these spots of water with a specific pheromone, letting the others locate the source. In time, groups congregate, giving the spot somewhat of a hum.


They also seem to love the pool to the dismay of many worshipers. "Stay calm, move slowly and look down at your feet as you walk around the edge," is what I always say.  The rising aroma of chlorinated water is something of a signature bee attractant.


And while large bodies of water seem to get the most attention, last years collection of tropical bromeliads, was buzzing with activity all summer long. Make sure your bees have a watering hole to stay cool as our weather continues to stay heated.

Uninvited Guest

FOUND IN: Nature, The Farm on May 29, 2012

They arrived, unannounced. For a few days they hid under fluffy inverted umbrellas, invisible to the lazy eye. It wasn't until the severed dill stalks collapsed from the day long feeding frenzy that anyone noticed.

The veil when lifted revealed multiple caterpillars all helping themselves to the feast.

Luck would have it, they picked the right plants to party in. Now the Italian parsley, a few beds over, "Come on guys, leave it alone!"



Coneflower Follows the Sun

FOUND IN: Garden Design, Nature on May 21, 2012

It grows beside the horse trough, planted in April of last year. Rudbeckia heliopsidis, Sunfacing Coneflower, wasn't a species I had seen before. Mepkin Abbey's horticulture department introduced it into the area through their plant sales.  It is a rare native to the southeast, one that needs to be grown in more gardens in the south.

It isn't flowering and probably won't until mid- July as it did last year. The flowers really do follow the sun. It seems to like a little more water than reported in the literature. Could be mine is a little princess, needing just a tad bit more attention. Either way, it is worth seeking out as it has a longer flowering period than the conventional Rudbeckias 'Goldstrum', flowering for at least a month.

The only place I've found where you can purchase it mail order is from Nearly Native Nursery in Fayettville, GA. Tell them Compostinmyshoe sent you.

Maria Would Have Been Singing

FOUND IN: Nature on July 29, 2011

A sun soaked day met the group from the Northwest Horticultural Society as they made their way up the pot holed stretch of dirt road. Today's journey would take us to the Tucquala Meadows, renowned for its unique flora. Located in the Upper Cle River Valley, with glacial snow- melted water flowing through beautiful waterways, I couldn't help but feel luck to be asked on the trip.

Daniel Mount, a botanist, garden designer and garden blogger (danielmountgardens), led the group. His duties among other things would be to point out the different plants as we came across them in the fields. I recently met Daniel in Seattle days before he invited me to join the tour at the recently held Seattle Garden Bloggers Fling. We have been following each other's blogs for a few years so it was great to finally meet.

The vast expanses of wildflowers, regal views onto the mountain ranges and the the overabundance of breeze filled fresh air made it the favorite of this trip to Seattle.

Many thanks to the NHS group for making a southern boy feel at home in such a cool and refreshing place! Did I say really cool, ya'll!

The Columbia Lily, Lilium columbianum, could be seen dotting the meadows with brown freckled yellowish orange petals back lit with the afternoon sun.
Daniel and the NHS group hover closely keying out species with the immense snow covered mountains as their backdrop.
The Suksdorf Paintbrush, Castilleja suksdorfi, was by far the most brilliantly colored feature amongst all the meadow wildflowers seen that day.
The wettest part of the meadow produced plants three times taller than those growing in drier spots. In the background is Cathedral Rock.