Pollinator Partners

 

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Celebrate National Pollinator Week, June 20 – 26, 2016!

I registered my gardens in the Million Pollinator Gardens Challenge. I’m on the map now as “Syringa Hill Farm” at Glendale, Idaho. Registering my garden means simply that I am one in a million gardeners who grows one or more plants that attract pollinators like butterflies, honey bees, bumble bees, bats, humming birds, lizards or any of a number of animals that pollinate flowers. I have several gardens, each a little different from the others. What blooms at my place has to withstand serious summer heat, winter cold and snow, and attacks from rodents that live underground and above ground, and occasionally range cattle and deer when they can get over or through the fence. Wildflowers do well! Having 8 acres, I used to garden on the deck before we fenced out range cattle and deer. Deer tracks in wet soil beneath our new Autumn Blaze maple a few mornings ago warn me that I still need to put up deer net to extend my fence higher than they want to jump.

Just some of the stable plants that I can grow easily here, and on which I’ve seen pollinators include:

bright geraniums

verbena

herbs: comfrey, cat nip and cat mint, sweet marjoram, thyme, oregano, sage, borage

mustard

arugula

squash

any garden food that blooms when I let it go to seed

“Pinks” and Jacob’s Coat roses

lavender

sunflowers

elderberry

wild cherry

How wonderful! As I’m writing this two black chinned humming birds are exploring potted flowers on my deck. I didn’t bring out my camera and the cat is on her harness nearby so I have to keep my eye on the situation. One way I assure more birds in my gardens is to keep the cat tethered. She has a long enough lead but I have to find strategic places to let her enjoy the outdoors considering our predators, including her, and the food chain when we live with wildlife! Just perfect!

You can register your garden here or  here to join the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, too. Do it! You get to display their enchanting logo on your blog and help spread the word about making pollinator friendly gardens and farms. Even one sole flower counts.

You can find out more about growing pollinator gardens and get lovely posters and wall paper and education materials at the websites below.

*Pollinators Home Page: US Fish and Wildlife Service  https://www.fws.gov/pollinators/Index.html

*Million Pollinators Garden website      http://millionpollinatorgardens.org/

*U. S. Forest Service: posters, wall paper, and many resources about wildflowers, native plants, ethnobotany and much more. Gorgeous posters of wildflowers, ferns, bees, grasslands, forests, and other pollinator partners. You can get some free and others you can download the pdf. and print them yourself.           http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/features/posters.shtml 

There are many more websites if you just google “pollinator partners”. Please send me a photo of a flower or garden you grow or find that attracts pollinators. Use the comments below to post them. And please register your garden in the challenge! I’d love to see it! You don’t have to garden in the US to register. My badge is way down at the bottom of my right sidebar. Scroll down to see it.

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Partners

 

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Summer Solstice

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Watercolor printed on tiles by Lauren McCarter

Summer Solstice by Carrie Richards

This was when the whole world measured time
This is when the light would turn around

This is where the past would come undone
and the spinning earth will mark a new beginning
Let’s go back in time, to when it all began

To the breaking of new dawns
Where moments bright with fire, would light the chanting song
Where pagans worshipped sun, and danced among the trees Wore strange masks of covered straw, and blessed cold ash with awe Wreaths hung upon the door against all spirit’s, dire
and when the winter’s grasp let go, the sun reversed the pyre
This was when the whole world measured time
This is when the light would turn around So that spring arrives, and seeds will sprout and grow
Oh, radiant sun, stretch the day, shorten night
Return earth’s darkness into light
This is where the light will turn around
And this was where the past has comes undone

 

Lauren McCarter is a watercolor artist living in Boise, Idaho. She generously gifted this art piece to me at a time when I needed a boost. Thank you, Lauren!

 

Pitted

Cherry season! Pull out the dehydrator and vodka and settle down for a few hours in the pits. I bought 50 pounds at a fruit stand, as pure as I could find. These were only sprayed with a pheromone that confuses male fruit flies to keep them from spoiling the crop. The insect lure helps growers monitor and manage for the most helpful insects. I still consider these organic and pure.

I seldom put recipes on my blog but these are so tasty and so good for you, I just want to share the juice. I love dried cherries so I’ve been waiting to get some into my dehydrators. I filled the large one and with our rains this week it took about 24 hours to dry them, longer than I expected. Today I filled the big and the small dehydrators. A big bowl of fruit is left for eating fresh. The rest went into jars with sugar and vodka for the liqueur I use in winter to make “cherry bombs”. Here’s how I did it.

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Cover up, it can get messy and stain your clothes. I wore Grandma’s apron. I think she must have made this one just for messing with cherries! I pulled out my super razor sharp paring knife. In little time I could pit cherries like I meant business. A sharp sharp knife is a must, far safer than a dull knife because it slices and you don’t have to push through the fruit.

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The short story is that I sliced a bowl of cherries, cutting all the way around from stem to stem. When I had a good sized bowl, I opened them, dropped out the pits and set them skin side down on the dehydrator trays. A glass of wine (or more) helped keep me from getting bored, as well as listening to an audio book while I sliced.

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You can see the stem at top of the left half, above. Grip each half and twist them in opposite directions to pop them open. The right side is turned so it’s stem part is facing away now. I twisted about a quarter turn. It was fairly fun!

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The pit sticks to one side. Scoop it out with your thumb or a finger. I found it faster and easier to slice a bunch, then remove all their pits for a while because my hands got slick removing pits which made it harder to handle the knife after each one. Try it this way and see how it works for you. I started my slice on one side of the stem, pulled the blade across the stem and around the cherry back to where I started. In the initial slice my blade rested on the pit and all I had to do was hold the knife in place and turn the cherry. Much safer than turning the knife around the globe, I was able to keep my fingers away from the blade edge. To be clear, hold the knife in place and turn the cherry with your thumb and fingers of the other hand, keeping your ring and pinky fingers out of the way.

I got into the zen of slicing a bowl of cherries, then removing pits and placing them on the tray. The longer I did this, the better I could focus on the audio book. It settled my mind, the repetition. Pit meditation. In the groove.

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See the sliced berries? Do up a bowl of them and then remove all their pits. I felt powerful with this method. Maybe fortified with wine?

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Ah, dehydrators are loaded and plugged in, now for simple fun. I first learned this recipe from a woman who brought cherry bombs to a Winter apres ski party. She served them in stemmed glasses with a float of whipped cream on top. I swear it tasted just like cherry pie! Maybe she used pie cherries and I might try that, too. She told me to drain all the vodka out of a bottle, saving it. Then fill the bottle with cherries or any fruit you want, pour in a cup of sugar, pour the vodka back in and then give it a gentle shake every day for a week or more to dissolve and distribute the sugar, then just shake it a little every once in a while for a total of 6 weeks. Finally, very important, hide it with your Christmas ornaments or ski boots so you don’t drink it before winter.

I’ve made it her way, loved it. Today I’m making cherry bomb liqueur in wide mouth quart jars. Into each jar I put

  • 2 1/2 cups pitted sliced cherries ( I’ve made them before without pitting them, no worries.)
  • 1 cup white sugar, pour it over the cherries. I don’t use brown sugar or coconut sugar because their color doesn’t make the liquor look as appetizing as white sugar. If you use coconut sugar use about 3/4 or 2/3 cups because it’s so much sweeter.
  • 1 cup vodka. I have a half bottle left over, so I used a half bottle for all 3 jars. See the level in the vodka bottle?

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Put on the lid and ring. Don’t water bath these, they don’t need to be sealed! You don’t have to use canning jars, I’ve used a gallon jar with lid before. I wouldn’t use plastic or metal, just glass. Gently shake each jar a little. Sugar will settle to the bottom but in several days it should be dissolved and invisible. Keep them in a cool dark place while they are working, and then store them in a cool dark place.

Another blogger, Sabine, makes something like this with bourbon and calls it Cherry Bounce. Here’s her recipe and post. Yum!

There you go. That’s it. Hmmm. Where will I hide these? Probably in 3 different places. Now to save interesting bottles to pour them in later for serving or gifts.

Weekly Photo Challenge:  PURE

 

 

Dear Spinning Planet

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Eastern Tiger Swallow Tail feeding on Comfrey

Dear Spinning Planet,

Thanks for turning me upside down these couple of weeks. All in all, it’s good to go topsy-turvy now and then and look at the  nature of life from the flip side. It gives me an angle to see that I am only a small part of nature. I’m not alone in going upside down to find my provisions. Misery and providence, isn’t that the point Mr. Hugo wanted to make?

So my kid’s in jail and I won’t go her bail and she gets herself out soon enough – yet again. And it’s the blame game – yet again.

So 4 friends die or have memorials in as many days and I can’t get to all of them. I feel like a refugee trying to keep my balance as they all fall down.

So my van gets clobbered by a hit and run driver after one of the memorials.

So my old rescue dog gets attacked by a pack of 3 pit bulls and when I give her permission she clobbers them well enough to give a slight window of time so their owner can pull the lead dog away with many bites to his arms. And the gang follows the leader. We make our get away escaping the unrealized massacre.

So he apologizes lavishly yet denies that more than one dog was attacking and we will let the judge hear us and decide. And that’s a big disruption in my schedule. And it’s what a multitude of residents and dog owners ask me to go through. And I will.

And I discover I belong with a local, national, and international community  that supports me in more abundance than I would have felt had I not tumbled over in this short avalanche of unfortunate events.

Now, tell me, Spinning Planet, that you will relax for a while and steady the current just for me so I can regain my harmony and shift my attention to the butterflies who have arrived in my gardens and the mule deer in my back yard who gave birth to twins just here and now. I still have strength to peer through disorder and flow with nature. And I remember that I am only a small thing, all in all.

Very sincerely yours,

me

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Central Bumble Bee on Comfrey
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Mama mule deer with twins to the right of the pine trees

 

About Eastern Tiger Swallow Tail

About comfrey here and here

About bumble bees and other pollinators here and  here 

About mule deer