You know how in summer you might notice a bee on a wildflower, collecting pollen and getting nectar? Usually the temperature’s warm and the sun’s out. The flower glows with color. You may hear a faint buzz, the song of birds. At that moment, you often feel a brief interlude of neutral relaxation. Calmness permeates the air. All is right in the world. Nature’s at work. It’s a peaceful time to cherish and a lovely slice of stress relief.
So in anticipation of this summer, I’m once again giving away wildflower seeds! Each packet contains coreopsis, coneflower, cosmos, black-eyed Susan, clover, marigolds, and more. All the flowers that bees like and keep their colonies thriving. If you’d like to get a free packet, sign up for my digest. Every month, I send a collection of interesting stuff to explore: ideas for books to read, plant news and gardening tips, music & film finds, my latest inspiration, advice on creativity, and more. Oh, and giveaways!
Speaking of which, if you’re already a subscriber and want seeds, watch for my next (March 7th) newsletter. In it, I’ll let you know the easy way to get the seeds. Until then, get your ground ready! Spring is coming and I have a feeling it’s going to be a happy growing season this year!
Last year, when The Forgetting Flower debuted, I gave away free wildflower seeds to anyone who pre-ordered the book. Well, this year I had almost 20 packets left so on social media I offered the leftovers to those who signed up for my monthly digest, A Vine of Ideas. I thought it would be a good way to clear the seed packets out and help attract bees to gardens, which they’re meant to do.
A Growing Interest in Gardening
Well, the response was overwhelming! Over 100 people requested the seed packets. I suspect it has to do with a surge in home gardening. Folks are sheltering in place due to Covid-19 and are eager to get outside and grow some flowers! This warms my heart. Also, I know people want to keep those little bees alive, which warms my heart even more.
So I ended up ordering more wildflower packets. And it turns out these are hard to come by now. A nursery worker told me shoppers are hungry for seeds. They want to grow fruits and vegetables and flowers. And now because I have plenty, I thought I’d extend the offer until the packets run out. I think I have about 40 left.
The packets are meant to attract bees so they’re a mix of annuals. They include bright red poppies, zinnia, yellow sunflowers, and plains coreopsis. If you live in one of the warmer USDA zones, some of these flowers may return or self sow for next year.
How to Get a Seed Packet
Getting a wildflowers seed packet is easy. Just sign up for A Vine of Ideas here. Every month I send a brief digest with links to what I’m reading, what I’m planting, what’s inspired me, what I’ve listened to, and more. I try to keep it short and sweet and most importantly, useful. If you’re in need of ideas to occupy your time, you’ll probably find it handy.
Note: when signing up in the form, just include your address in the Favorite Topics field, and if you want to include what your favorite topics are, I’d love to hear them! I’m always interested in writing about what people want to read.
Good morning, all! I’ve finished the form for those who preordered The Forgetting Flower. The packets of wildflower seeds are ready! These organic, non-GMO seeds, from the reputable Renee’s Garden, will go to the first 25 people who preorder. And by the way, I’ll be sending the seeds right away. You don’t have to wait until June when the book’s released.
You can plant the seeds easily in your backyard or in a container. They will form a beautiful riot of color and bloom at varying times. Here’s a list of the seeds you’ll get:
- Ammi majus, Bishop’s Weed
- Calendula officinalis, Pot Marigold
- Centaurea, Cornflower
- Collinsia, Chinese Houses
- Coreopsis tinctoria dwarf, Dwarf Plains Coreopsis
- Cosmos bipinnatus dwarf, Dwarf White Cosmos
- Dimorphotheca aurantiaca, African Daisy
- Dracocephalum moldavica, Moldavian Dragonhead
- Echium plantagineu, Purple viper’s bugloss
- Eschscholzia californica, California poppy
- Gilia capitata,Blue thimble flower
- Godetia grandiflora, Clarkia
- Gypsophila elegans, Baby’s Breath
- Iberis umbellatum, Candytuft
- Layia platyglossa,Coastal Tidytips
- Linum rubrum, Scarlet Flax
- Malcolmia maritima, Virginia Stock
- Nemophila insignis, Baby Blue eyes
- Papaver rhoeas, Red Poppy
- Rudbeckia hirta, Black-eyed Susan
- Salvia horminum, Blue Monday
- Saponaria vaccaria rosea Pink Beauty Vaccaria
- Silene armeria. Sweet William Catchfly
Some of these seed packets have been claimed so I hope you order soon! Here’s the link to the form. You may need to copy and paste it in your browser:
Years ago, I was trimming English lavender at a client’s house in Seattle. It was a sunny summer day, the kind of day for which I was thankful to work as a gardener. As the sun warmed my arms, I cut the fragrant stems with my pruners, shifting my kneepad a few inches at a time. The bees hovered and landed on the still-blooming wands, doing their little jobs of finding nectar. But as I piled my cut wands on my tarp, I noticed one bee struggled in the dirt, trying to buzz and lift off.
To Save a Single Bee
I slipped my hori hori, which is a flat Japanese trowel, underneath the little insect and gently tossed him on a nearby coneflower, thinking he just needed a little help. But after a few seconds, he seemed to fall asleep and lay there, clinging to the blossom’s center.
This was the beginning of a trend. In the years that followed, I noticed more struggling or dead bees in clients’ gardens. Then I’d come home and find the same scene in my own garden: a bee clinging to the blooming head of a veronica or bee balm, frozen and lifeless. Just last year, I walked onto my patio in summer and found a lonesome lifeless bee. It lay on the outdoor coffee table beside a vase of cut avens (or geum) stems.
These are signs of what scientists are now calling “colony collapse disorder.” A USDA report found that 33 percent of honeybee colonies died in one year alone. That’s a lot. Too much. Scientists believe the cause is the use of pesticides called neonicotinoids that agriculturalists use to spray crops. The problem is neonicotinoids get into the leaves, pollen and nectar of plants.
Our Food Supply Depends on Bees
As bees experience chronic exposure to neonics, it disrupts their immune and nervous systems. It’s almost if they’re smoking cigarettes constantly. Like humans, they die from this. When the European Union was presented with this evidence, they banned the use of neonics. However, the US did not.
Bees pollinate fruits and vegetables. They spread pollen from a plant’s stamens (male organs) onto the ovaries of pistils (female organs), creating a fruit. Without bees, there are no strawberries or avocados or peaches or over 140 other fruits and vegetables. Our food supply depends on bees. Not only that, farmers’ livelihoods depend on bees.
But You Can Help
Today, I’m asking you to do one of two things.
One. Get active. If you’re short on time, you can join an environmental advocacy organization like the Sierra Club. They’re working on this issue. Also, you can write the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) or your state senator. Here’s a list to find yours. Tell them how important this is to you, how concerned you are. And that you don’t support the use of neonicotinoids in agriculture.
Two. Plant the wildflowers that bees love. You can buy seeds from reputable retailers who raise organic, non-GMO seeds and plants. Renee’s Garden is one, Urban Farmer is another. Home Depot and Lowe’s may not be, I don’t know. You have to inquire. The thing to remember when buying wildflowers is, ask your retailer if the plants are organic. If their inventory has been sprayed with pesticides, you’re merely spreading the problem. And believe me, the horticulture industry isn’t perfect.
If you don’t have the time to find an organic retailer, you can pre-order my novel, The Forgetting Flower, and receive a packet of organic wildflower seeds. I’ll be giving away these seed packets to the first 25 people who preorder my book. Preorders will open soon!
The best thing about planting wildflowers for bees is you don’t even need a patch of earth! It can be done in a container on a balcony. And next week, I’ll publish a post recommending the best, hardiest, easiest flowers to plant to attract bees. In the meantime, enjoy your spring day!