Thursday, September 30, 2010

Marmorated Stink Bugs!

There is little we sufferers can do to deter the stink bug infestations we're experiencing this year, beyond caulking every crack, opening, window, baseboard to seal the house. Once they've gotten inside, cats have been helpful as have vacuum cleaners (if you don't mind the lingering scent) and tissues and toilet bowls (my weapons of choice). Insecticides not only have proven ineffective but also are known to upset the beneficial insect population, especially valuable to fruit farmers. But help will be on the way. Read below.

From Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences:

On the Trail of the Stink Bug

Posted: September 23, 2010

On Wednesday, September 22, nearly 14,000 people visited our college’s website to learn about the brown marmorated stink bug.

On the Trail of the Stink Bug

The brown marmorated stink bug

This brown marmorated stink bug (the BMSB, from here on) is relatively new to Pennsylvania and the United States. It is known to be a pest in its native range in Asia, but it was first noticed in Pennsylvania only in 1998. The bug (and this is a case where “bug” is the right term – insects related to the stink bug are, indeed, true bugs) has been a nuisance to homeowners for several years. It spends the winter as an adult in sheltered locations, so it begins to congregate on the outside of homes this time of year, and it can find its way inside, to the chagrin of residents.

This summer, however, we’re seeing a different side of the stink bug. It has emerged as a significant pest of food and feed crops. Fruit growers are noticing serious injury – the stink bug feeds by sucking plant fluids through its beak, and the damage at the feeding site leads to rejection of the fruit by the consuming public, even though the damage is cosmetic only. In addition to fruit, the BMSB is attacking a range of vegetables and even agronomic crops such as soybeans: farmers may well notice some significant loss of crop yield as harvest progresses.

The real danger of the BMSB, in my opinion, is that it is such an important pest in apples that growers may feel compelled to apply additional pesticides to protect their crop. This could basically take us back 30 years in our efforts to work with orchardists to reduce pesticides based upon the principles of integrated pest management, or IPM. We’ve helped apple growers drastically reduce their pesticide use over recent decades, all based on research that led to improved understanding of pest biology and the use of natural enemies and alternatives to chemical pesticides to manage the pests. These alternatives don’t control the BMSB, so a return to pesticide treatments targeting this new pest could completely disrupt our IPM progress.

We don’t know a lot about this new bug yet, but this example illustrates the capability of our land-grant system here in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. Whether we are talking about our role in managing and eventually helping to eradicate the fruit disease plum pox virus, our efforts to get to the bottom of colony collapse disorder in honey bees, or even our education and research efforts on Marcellus Shale natural gas on behalf of Pennsylvania citizens, time and again faculty, educators, staff, and students in our college step up to tackle new problems and find solutions. The combination of Cooperative Extension and agricultural research, which together bring fundamental discoveries down to earth as solutions to real-world problems, is the power of the Land-Grant.

We don’t have the answers on the brown marmorated stink bug yet, but stand by. Our team is on the job. Connect with us on Facebook for additional information as it becomes available.

Stink Bug Page Traffic Trends

Stink Bug Traffic Trends

Stink Bug PA City Traffic

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More Fall

a few posts from past years about fall maintenance and spring-flowering bulbs.

Oy the Lawn

Summer was cruel to our well-intended lawns. Even with regular and responsible irrigation, the combination of record-breaking heat and few real rains wreaked havoc and provided weeds and critters with optimal conditions.'s the time to regain our emerald glory before the temps drop.

To begin...mow the lawn, short (1 to 1.5 inches). This will make the tasks to follow easier and more successful.

De-thatch. Take a hard rake to the lawn, remove the build-up of thatch, exposing soil between areas of healthy lawn. You might as well remove large weed colonies as you see them and rake those areas, too.

De-bump. While you're de-thatching, check for bumps, depressions, unevenness in the soil and correct with good topsoil. if those imperfections reside underneath good sod, lift it and correct, then reposition the sod.

Test. Now is a very good time to check your soil's ph which will likely be low if you haven't checked it in a while. We live in an area of primarily acidic soil which is why we can grow so many wonderful broad-leafed evergreens. But that condition is not optimal for grass. Take a soil sample, in baggie, to your local garden center for a quick ph test and adjust as recommended with a simple application of lime (too much can be too much, so make sure to adjust according to their recommendation based on the test result). You can use a spreader but do not mix the lime with fertilizer in the spreader! Water well after it's applied. it's unlikely that a soil test will indicate a too-high ph reading. If so, your garden center will recommend a sulphur product (be careful not to use too might burn the turf) to lower the ph.

De-weed. Walk the lawn and stop to remove, by root, the weeds. On our properties, we remove large areas of weeds and apply sod. On smaller areas we seed. This is the ultimate organic weed removal!

Compost. On all cleared areas, apply a layer of mushroom compost or composted leaves that you might have stored on your property. Rake into the existing soil, smooth (mix may want to apply a mix of topsoil and compost). Not only will the compost fertilize the lawn but it will help to break down clay and add beneficial microbes to the soil structure which will digest grass clippings, dead roots, other green waste over time.

Aerate. Every few years, consider renting a core aeration machine or hire a service. Or strap on a pair of aeration sandals and get some exercise. Aeration allows roots to penetrate deeper, and fertilizer/compost and moisture to work further into the soil. The effect for just the first few days is like having a team of dogs doing their business everywhere.
Seed. Use a premium mix for shade and sun, available from a number of seed companies...choose a mix that is not too heavy on perennial rye. Primex carries some top quality seeds. Apply according to directions. Be sure you've loosened and composted your soil first, and added lime if needed.
We apply seed first to those areas we've prepared, and then to the rest of the lawn right over the existing turf. A walking seed spreader is the easist way to apply the seed, but be sure you've gotten enough of it to the spots in need.

Water!!!!! And a few more exclamation marks as well. Immediately after applying the seed, soak the areas well. Twice a day thereafter, a light watering so that the seeds don't move into clumps. Morning and late afternoon, unless of course it's raining. If the soil dries out, the seeds won't germinate or will die once they have. When the new grass is at least 2 inches tall, resume your normal watering schedule and mow with a sharp blade at any time thereafter.

Fertilize. Create a schedule for regular ongoing fertilization of your lawn. A number of excellent organic products are available.

Many folks remark that a lawn is impractical and unnecessary. Though it's true, a lawn also provides cool green on a hot summer's day. A soft carpet for walking barefoot. And it affords a house and property the look of being well-loved and cared for. Enjoy yours!

And please call if you can use our help.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

From Waterwise Garden News:

Seeing the Blues - Color and Bees

The Web of Life in Your Garden

"When fully in bloom, visitors to my garden often visit the most colorful plants first. If I've done my job well in designing the space, that's where all the bees are too.

A healthy garden needs to support a population of bees, as without them the world would have less flowers and even fewer fruits and vegetables. Bees, like many humans, are attracted to pretty things. They have good color vision and are attracted to brightly blooming flowers. Bees are particularly attracted to the colors blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow. These flowers provide nectar, a bee's main source of energy, and pollen, which provides the balance to a bee's diet.

To ensure as many honeybees and native bees as possible can benefit from your garden, choose to plant a diversity of blooming perennial plants. Honeybees, which are native to Europe, pollinate a wide variety of flowering plants (both native and non-native) and are particularly fond of European herbal plants like Lavender. We also want to attract native bees, so it is necessary to have native plants. I always try to plant at least two thirds native plants in my gardens. I guess bees like to shop local too! Bee species fly at different times of the season, so I always design my garden with long blooming plants, and an assortment of bloomers that come into flower at different times of the growing season. Plant at least three to five of the same plant because bees like to move from plant to plant of the same kind. I recommend putting your bee plants in a sunny spot that is also protected from strong winds if possible. Bees can be fussy that way.

Last thing, in my 26 years of gardening I've never been stung by a bee. I asked around here at the greenhouse and that seems to be pretty common. Bees, by nature, just don't find us as tempting as a nice Delosperma. Native bees never sting unless at risk of death, and honeybees rarely sting except when their nest is threatened. I can relate.

We are losing flowers and habitat with more and more spaces being covered with pavement and buildings. Be eco-conscious by planting flowers to replace lost nectar sources. By doing so you will nurture a critical ingredient in nature and our world's economy, the bee. If each of us can support the web of life in our gardens, then together we can make an earth changing difference."

David Salman is the Founder, President and Chief Horticulturist at High Country Gardens. He has spent over 25 years in pursuit of the best plants for western landscapes. He is a distinguished recipient of numerous awards including the 2008 American Hort. Society's award for outstanding commercial horticulture.

A prolific writer, Salman has written numerous articles for Fine Gardening, American Gardener and Horticulture magazines. Salman also writes The Xeric Gardener, his own blog.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hello Again!

My goodness, I've really neglected this blog project! Since last post, the import business sold. Two of my sons and I traveled through England and Dubai and the landscape season started immediately thereafter, so much damage from the outlandish winter to contend with before moving forward with new projects.

It's been a glorious spring so far...and didn't we all deserve it! We're in the last stages of the bulb season. Here are just a few images of variably colored Tulip varieties on clients' properties this year:

I'm a sucker for Tulips!

This variety, "Sun Lover" has been my personal favorite for the past several years. Recently, while at work in the vicinity of a mass planting, a toddler toddled by, nose at level of the bloom (which was about the size of her head, these tulips are HUGE), and sniffed. She exclaimed "pretty smell!" and indeed, "Sun Power" is not only stunning to behold in all its yellow to orange to red and everything-in-between splendor...but fragrant, too.

In a few weeks we'll have an Open House to move on many orphan plants from our nursery...perennials, shrubs, a few trees. Plus some gently nicked items from the import collection...planters, architectural elements, all sorts of intriguing things from Burma, Thailand and the area. Of course, prices will be righteous! We need the space. We'll be sending emails to those of you on the list and will post more here about the event.

Meantime, if you're in search of a plant, woody or herbaceous, that you can't seem to find, give a buzz and perhaps we'll locate for you!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Putting It To Bed

Some simple tips for putting your gardens to bed til spring...

  • If you happen to have a mulching leaf vacuum and you have oak sure to use that wonderful stuff as mulch for your Rhododendrons, Azaleas, blue Hydrangeas and other acid-loving plants. There's nothing better! Even if you don't have one of those machines (they ARE noisy and gas-guzzling), your oak leaves, whole, will provide a nourishing mulch and break down faster than other leaves do. Virginia Umberger, who taught me everything about the significance of each individual plant, would keep a ready supply of oak leaves through all four seasons to use as mulch. She is in her late nineties and still carrying water from her rain barrel to the sun garden across the street.
  • My mom, who taught me everything about the universe of fine gardening from the start, and who still tends to her beautiful gardens with an eye to the immaculate, doesn't have oak leaves on her property. She knows the value of pine needles which are in ample supply, and uses them to advantage in her Rhododendron and Hydrangea beds. I must post some photos of her gardens.
  • Cut back to an inch above ground all of your perennial plants. if you're enjoying the seedheads or post-frost foliage then by all means don't cut back!
  • This is an optimal time to divide, transplant perennials if they've outgrown their spots.
  • Bring Hydrangea heads into the house...just place into containers (leaves removed) for all-winter enjoyment.
  • No pruning of Roses, Butterfly Bushes, Caryopteris til early spring! If in doubt about anything, don't prune. Doing so now encourages new growth which will be vulnerable to the cold, and may well kill the plant.
  • When there's time, I like to edge all beds for a neat appearance through winter.
  • Containers....remove plants, soil, and turn upside-down. Concrete containers will be ok with soil. A planter you really care about that may be too heavy to store or turn over can be safe-guarded by covering the opening with a piece of plywood, then wrapping the entirety with bubble wrap (you may want to then cover with burlap and raffia which looks a whole lot nicer).
  • We plant bulbs through mid-January. Don't stress if you haven't the time right now. A word of caution...bulbs can easily become moldy and be sure yours are stored where there is good air circulation and little moisture if you're not going to be planting for a while.
  • Dahlias...if you have a dry spot indoors for storing them, lift from the ground with an inch or two of the stalk remaining, and wash the dirt off. Check every so often during the next few months, with a water sprtizer in hand, if they are too dry. They can be divided now (check for new growth nodules to determine which will be viable next year) w/ a sharp knife or in early spring. You'll be replanting them in April. Or...if the following months are not terribly wet, your tubers will be safe in the ground with a 12 inch layer of leaves and landscape cloth, attached to the ground with sod staples (available at most garden centers) to cover.
  • Cannas are somewhat more forgiving than Dahlias of how they're stored. Wash them and place them in your garage or basement, plant in late April/early May.
  • It's not too late to repair your lawn with fact, it's the easiest time of year for establishing. Call or email if you want a top-quality resource.
  • The winter garden has its own charms. Be thoughtful of that as you prepare.

We can help with all of the above and more.
Let us know if you have need.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Botany of Desire

New PBS series, based on a book by Michael Pollan...check out the show's very entertaining site.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Autumn Leaves, Warmly

This is for you, Yas...

The late, much adored Eva Cassidy.

Sparkling the Autumn Garden

Summer flew by in record time. Yesterday we were planning and prepping our beds for summer gardening. Today we're bemoaning the very first frost-blackened tips and thinking...ok, time to put energy to clean-up!

There is a special beauty to the autumn garden. Overblown Impatiens against colorful foliage...Dahlias doing what they do, on steroids, in neon overdrive...even the cover of fallen leaves on the garden the autumn sun casts a sparkle upon the earth...and the invigorating smell of it all. If you can wait til a complete frost to attend to end of season chores, then by all means do. That means removing or cutting back those annual and perennial plants that are gone by, allowing those that are still respectable to show off. A bit of thought to the interplay of forms and colors at this time of year, when grooming the garden, is a worthy effort.

Leave Hydrangeas intact until we're assured of an overnight frost. Then cut the heads, with stems...before the frost!!... and bring a bundleful indoors. Remove foliage, put directly into a big bowl and enjoy the carmine, lime, cream, and violet hues all winter.

Someone on a side street in Chestnut Hill has smartly...or serendipitously...combined raspberry red Mums with what remains of a planting of summer's bright orange "Fire" Profusion Zinnias. Wish I had a photo to share. Delicious.

Consider the Dahlia...take quiet time this winter to peruse some of the many fine catalogs available online (my favorite resource is Swan Island Dahlias ). Growers and hybridizers convey their passion with brilliant photos of out-of-this-world blooms and exuberant new introductions. You'll be hard-pressed to turn away, even if you're aware of the tedious staking and deadheading (and digging in fall if you want to re-use the tubers) required to keep this class of plants vital and producing. Once the weather cools, Dahlias put on a razzle dazzle show unlike anything else in the plant world. Bouquet combinations are unlimited.

In the next few posts, we'll discuss efficient and garden-smart ways to put your bit of the earth to bed for the winter.

Monday, August 24, 2009

More in the Warehouse

267 625 4002,
or Open House Sept. 12 and 13, 10 til 5.
1406 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor PA 19038

Prices at wholesale and below.

Help, please as we sadly close Look East. These photos are a sampling of what's in store. Only available to top designers and fine stores til now.
See posting below for full details.

In the Warehouse

Posted here are photos of Look East's warehouse. A significant collection of art and craft and antiquity from Southeast Asia.

Read post below...we're closing Look East, selling to businesses and to the public. If you appreciate this aesthetic, then it behooves you to get to the warehouse asap where we're offering these treasures at wholesale and well below. This is quite the collection.

Please contact us if you'd like to stop by, or plan to visit on
Sept 12, 13, 10 til 5.
1406 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor PA 19038
267 625 4002

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Treasures to Go

It's with enormous sadness that, after 6 years, I am dissolving Look East: traders in Asian style. I no longer have someone to manage, travel, sell and I haven't the time, given landscape responsibilities, to do it myself. AND, it takes a special talent that I haven't got! (though I was an exceptional traveler to the East and a world-class shopper!!)

Most of you haven't had the tour of the warehouse. We'd been selling business to impressive roster of interior and landscape designers, architects, the finest garden shops and nurseries, home furnishings stores, restaurants and other corporate entities. Up and down the East Coast and in Dallas. We did not sell directly to the public but you may have seen pieces from our collection at your favorite shops or featured in design publications. A few of you, friends of the landscape business, have stopped by.

You can't begin to imagine, if you haven't visited, the array of amazing treasures, old and new, from Burma, Thailand, Lao, Cambodia, Viet Nam. Things you don't find anywhere, except perhaps similar in the most sophisticated design mags and books. Search Architectural Digest (keywords "Asian Style" for example) to see how these pieces enhance whatever your personal style may be.

So...we're opening the warehouse for a public sale, prices greatly reduced to move them out. 50 - 80% off retail and on larger sales, we'll deal. Please help us do that!! Be prepared to drop your jaw when you do. The warehouse is a museum of indigenous art and craft from that part of the world...each piece embued with the gentle spirit of its maker and the culture.

Ceramics, teak architectural elements, statuary, textiles and wearables, fine art, water features, candles, bronzes, musical instruments, furniture, and more. For indoor and outdoor living. If you've been looking for a Buddha image that speaks blessings to you for your home or garden, you'll likely find it here. View our photo album for a sampling of what's in store.

I'll be posting more on this blog site about the event and about particular pieces and how they're made, and also will send notes to all on our list with particulars. In the meantime, if you'd like to stop by beforehand, call and we'll make the time!

I mean it...4400 square feet stuffed with extraordinary, spirit-enhancing objects, and I need your help to give them all good homes!!! Help!!!
Please share this link with your friends so we can get the word out.

Mark your calendar...
Sept 12 and 13, 10 a.m. til 5 pm. Other times by appointment. 1406 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor PA 19038
267 625 4002

Blessings to all, hope your summer is a delight.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hobbit House

Wouldn't this be fun?! House in Wales, with lots of surprises inside. Handmade of natural materials at very little cost.

Click here to see more photos and a plan.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Crazy year for tulips...a late spring and lots of rain made for a simultaneous burst of early and mid-season blooming varieties against an Irish-green backdrop...on a weekend that was record-breakingly hot. The heat shortened the bloom period; but for a few peak days, wow!

Folks have asked what to do after bloom time.

Tulips don't come back reliably the next year. With that in mind, on most of our properties we lift the bulbs after the flowers are gone, plant new ones in the fall. If you wish to leave them in the ground, take chances on their return with bloom, then cut off just the spent heads. Leave stems and foliage to wilt. This is what will nourish the bulb below. When the foliage can be removed very easily (without a tug), also remove the stems.
At that time sprinkle Bulbtone on the surrounding soil.

Repeat in the fall.

Tulips are the divine extravagance!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rare Finds

This is a destination not to be missed, I promise you!! It's jaw-droppingly beautiful. And the folks at this nursery are entertaining, knowledgeable and passionate about what they grow.

The nursery is located about one hour's drive from Philadelphia.

From Hank Schannen and the Rare Find Gang...

"Over the next 3 to 4 weeks our five acres of rhododendrons will be coming into peak bloom. Help us celebrate a glorious spring by visiting and strolling through our woodland garden and appreciating the thousands of different rhododendrons and azaleas we grow. We offer the largest variety of hardy rhododendrons, evergreen and deciduous azaleas in the country. Now is the time to visit and see the plants in our garden, and choose from the wide variety of sizes we have for sale.

"Our garden and nursery are open to the public Wednesday thru Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. We are closed on Sundays. We carry almost 1,000 rhododendrons and 2,000 plants in other genera, including rare shrubs, Japanese maples, magnolias, conifers, grasses, and perennials.

"If you cannot visit us, you can order through our web site; shipping is in full swing. If you need directions and a map, you can download it by clicking here.

"We look forward to your visit or hearing from you."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bamboo and Paper Homes

From Re-Nest, beautiful shelter proto- types made of folded paper and bamboo. Designer Ming Tang created these serene structures to meet the needs of earthquake victims in China. Read more.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Easy Food Gardening

Sign on at One Million Gardens' web site and receive a packet of heirloom seeds, free!
...enough, they say, to grow 100's of pounds of food. The site provides a 52 week course in organic backyard food production and features online videos of gardening techniques.

Read's entry to learn the 10 easiest food crops to grow, specific soil ph and tips for planting and growing each.

I'd add:

  • Remember to give your seeds and plants loose, organically amended soil. Manure, mushroom compost, household compost are all fine amendments. Add liberally!! Green sand is a mined mineral, available at garden centers, that provides the soil with potassium (for disease resistance and overall plant vitality), loosens clay and binds sand. Raised beds offer best control of soil quality.
  • If you have rabbits, groundhogs, squirrels or other guests squatting on your property, be sure to fence your garden. Apply wire netting to the fence, and dig it into the ground at least six inches straight down and then a good six inches perpendicular, into the garden area. Planting marigolds at the perimeter of your garden will further discourage munchers. Bird netting over berries and grapes will keep birds from taking your entire crop. Leave a few for the birds, though! And check often to ensure that no animal has become entangled in the net.
  • Fertilize, if you must (a rich, well-amended garden bed does away with the need for fertilizer) with fish emulsion, sea kelp (both available at area garden centers) or manure tea, which is made by filling a potato sack or other porous material with manure, placing it in an old trash can, adding water and letting it sit for a few days...then applying the liquid to plants. If your garden is planted in less than wonderful soil, apply any of the aforementioned weekly.
  • Create sturdier support systems than you initially think you'll need for climbers and tall plants. Purchase or make your own. Be diligent to attach new growth, regularly.
  • Hang banana peels near plants to control aphids.
  • Provide lots of sunlight, water as needed and weed around the plants every so often.
  • Harvest and enjoy!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Arvo Part

Arvo Part, Minimalist Estonian composer, 1935 - present. His work is otherworldly, with emphasis on the space between the notes. This quiet piece, "Mirror in Mirror", has been adapted to the scores of several films and may be the most familiar. His body of work is extensive, ranging from the secular to, more recently, soaring sacred compositions.

Having lately come upon him, his work speaks to me profoundly. If you enjoy this piece, I urge you to check out other aspects of his music.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Build a Fountain

This Old House's web site offers a simple tutorial for turning any old thing into a fountain. Figure a $100 to $200 investment, but it can be done for a lot less if you repurpose something you already have, such as a fabulous urn or an old ornament. Just about anything...or any gathering of things, really!

The plan can be adjusted to include a submersible solar pump, for the energy-conscious. Here's a good one, for under $20, that comes with an array of nozzle heads.

Speaking of fabulous urns, consider this plan for turning one into a fountain. Check out our site, Look East: traders in asian style for a selection of exceptional, handmade Southeast Asian water jars, well-suited to this project. Some are one-of-a kind. We sell to the trade, so contact us if you have interest and we'll direct you to a local retailer or sell directly if one is not nearby.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Conserve Energy...Plant a Tree!

Did you know that you can conserve energy by:

  • Planting deciduous trees on the South side of the house to shade it in summer and let the sun in during winter months. Air conditioning costs can be cut from 10 to 50%.

  • Planting evergreen trees on the North side to act as a windbreak in winter as well as in summer when hot breezes can permeate your home.

  • Siting your air conditioning system in a shady spot or on the North side of your home.

  • Locating a trellis and vine on the South side of the house.
  • Planting shrubs in close proximity to the house to create a lower windbreak in winter, keep out heat in summer.

  • Making gardens...plants release moisture which cools the air as it evaporates.

  • Installing a solar powered fountain, for the same cooling effect.

From the National Academy of Sciences...

The NAS estimates that urban America has 100 million potential tree spaces (places where trees could be planted). It further estimates that filling these spaces with trees and lightening the color of dark, urban surfaces would result in annual energy savings of 50 billion kilowatt-hours...25% of the 200 billion killowatt-hours consumed each year by air conditioners in the U.S. This would reduce electric power plant emissions of carbon dioxide by 3.5 million tons (32 metric tons) annually and save users of utility-supplied electricity 3.5 billion dollars each year.

Photo from

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Colony Collapse Disorder

Here's an informative article on the demise of honeybees. Israeli Acute Paralytic Virus is thought to have been imported with seemingly healthy Australian bees by American beekeepers in 2004. A healthy bee population is essential to pollinization of food crops as well as ornamental plants, so the problem is being aggressively researched. Pesticide exposure, environmental stress, bacterial and fungal diseases and a parasitic mite are also thought to have contributed to what has affected from 50 to 90% of U.S. commercial honey bee colonies over the past several years.

In the meantime, there are other bee species that are effective pollinators, and there are ways to encourage them to make their hives in your garden areas. I've been researching the topic and will address it further in the fall, when orders are taken for spring delivery of the bees. I'll include resources and also links to makers of the most effective types of bee houses.

For this spring, be sure plenty of early-blooming plants are located in the vicinity of your fruit trees when they come into flower, to ensure good yield. Funded by the Haagen Daz Corporation (which credits honey bees for almost half of their 60 ice cream flavors!) The Penn State University Master Gardeners Program offers homeowners and professionals their guidelines for creating bee-friendly environments.

Note: Honey bees are NOT aggressive stingers.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Children of Autumn

From crew mate Mark Arnosky...

Seeds of Fire
Dripping Down
Falling with Grace
Plunk, Plop, Patter
Resting their beds
green or brown or multicolored

Seeds of Fire
Sinking in
Disappearing in earnest
Down, Down, Down
Fire banked in loam
green or brown or red

Seeds of Fire
Coals now
Waiting, quiet anticipation
Listening, feeling, saving
for the right moment
It's almost upon them

Coals of fire
Time has ripened
strain, push, Break
reach, Drive

Coals of Quiet Fire
ignited by rain
showing their Beauty
up up up
spreading arms wider
All green All new

Unstoppable Green Fire
Dancing Wider, Higher
competition intense
striving for the canopy
winners gain the light
losers receive dark shadows
the latter a placing none wants

A Fire Reborn
Wholly Majestic
Radiating pure strength
Prepared to give
Their children to Autumn
When their Hair
Turns to yellow tipped red
When the Cold Wind Blows
When the Soft Bed Calls.