Participating in the Pollinator Census? Plant Native Plants!

Here is a list of late summer early fall blooming Southeastern US NATIVE plants that will put on a show for the Pollinator Census in August:

  1. Goldenaster, Chrysopsis mariana, Aug-Sept, yellow
  2. Blue Mistflower, Conoclinium coelestinum, Aug-Sept, Lavender
  3. White thoroughwort, Eupatorium aromaticum, Aug-Sept, white
  4. Hyssop leaved Thoroughwort, Eupatorium hyssopifolium, Aug-Sept, white
  5. Big leaf Woods Aster, Eurybia jonesiae,  Aug-Sept, pale pink
  6. Cornel leaf Aster, Doellingeria infirma, Aug-Sept, white
  7. Wavy Leaf Aster, Symphyotrichum undulatum, pale blue
  8. Smooth Blue Aster, Symphyotrichum laeve, Aug-Oct lavender
  9. Perennial sunflower, Helianthus angustifolia, Aug-Sept, deep yellow
  10. Red eye Sunflower, Helianthus atrorubens, Aug-Sept, yellow, red disk flowers
  11. Woodland Sunflower, Helianthus divaricatus, Aug-Sept, yellow
  12. Erect goldenrod, Solidago erecta, Aug-Sept, deep yellow
  13. Goldenrod, Solidago nemoralis, Aug-Sept, deep yellow
  14. Fragrant goldenrod, Solidago odora, Aug-Sept, deep yellow
  15. Wrinkled goldenrod, Solidago rugosa, Aug-Sept, deep yellow
  16. Showy goldenrod, Solidago speciosa, Aug-Sept, deep yellow
  17. Native Pasture Thistle, Cirsium discolor, August, Lavender/pink
  18. Joe Pye Weed, Eutrochium fistulosum, Jul – Oct,  pink
  19. Sweet Scented Joe Pye, Eutrochium purpureum, Jul – Oct, pink
  20. Small head sunflower, Helianthus microcephala, Jul-Aug, pale yellow
  21. Woodland sunflower, Helianthus strumosus, Jul-Aug, gold
  22. St John’s Wort, Hypericum frondosum, July-Aug, yellow      
  23. Creeping St Andrew’s Cross, Hypericum stragulum, July-Aug, yellow
  24. Littlehead Blazing star, Liatris microcephala, Aug-Sept, purple
  25. Blazing star, Liatris spicata, Jul-Aug, purple
  26. Blazing star, Liatris squarrosa, Jul-Aug, purple
  27. Wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa, Jul-Aug, white – pink
  28. Spotted Horsemint, Monarda punctata, Jul-Aug, pink and yellow
  29. Rosinweed, Silphium spp, Jul-Aug, yellow
  30. Halberd leaved Mallow, Hibiscus laevis, Jul-Oct, pink and crimson
  31. Eastern Rose Mallow, Hibiscus moscheutos, ssp.palustris, Jul-Oct, pink and crimson
  32. Cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis, Jul-Sept, crimson
  33. Downy blue lobelia, Lobelia puberula, Jul-Sept, deep blue
  34. Great blue lobelia, Lobelia siphilitica, Jul-Sept, bright blue
  35. Sensitive Briar, Mimosa microphylla, Jul-Sept, Bright pink
  36. Evening primrose, Oenothera biennis, Jul-Sept, yellow
  37. Cinquefoil, Potentilla canadensis, Jun-Sept, yellow
  38. Black eyed Susan, Rudbeckia fulgida, Jun-Sept, deep yellow, brown center
  39. Black eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta, Jun-Sept, deep yellow, brown center
  40. Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium, June – Aug, green
  41. Giant Purple Hyssop, Agastache scrophulariifoliae, June – Sept, purple
  42. Large Flowered Coreopsis, Coreopsis grandiflora, June – Sept, deep yellow
  43. Sharpwing Monkeyflower, Mimulus ringens, June-Aug, pink and yellow
  44. Hoary Skullcap, Scutellaria incana, July-Sept, blue and white

 

 


The First Flight

blog post by guest contributor Melina Lozano Duran

The first flight. Have you heard of this expression before, do you know what that means?

It all comes from the fact that some insect species have several generations that come out

Bombus impatiens on Stone Mountain Daisy, Helianthus porterii. Photo by Melina Lozano Duran

at different seasons but as a global consensus the season where native bees remerge from their nest after Winter is Spring.  Spring isn’t the only conventional temperate season where flowers are supposed to bloom and animal species start reproducing. In the insect

world, specifically in native bee world, Fall and Winter are crucial seasons for the natural world of plants and insects to have a successful Spring.  

Most native bee species in Georgia are active all year round visible to the human eye in Spring, Summer and Fall. Winter is still a very active season for bees but you do not get to

Carpenter bee, Xylocopa virginica robbing nectar. Photo by Melina Lozano Duran.

see the action! A solitary native bee’s life span is less than a year from egg to adult- what is known as a complete metamorphosis. You only get to see the adult stage, which usually lasts a few weeks. For example, in the Family Andrenidae, many species go through pupation and adult maturation inside their nests during late Summer through Winter and emerge in Spring. Georgia is home to approximately 89 Andrena (mining bees) species of the 465 species in the United States, a very significant number. Look out for medium sized bees like Apis mellifera (honeybee) with fussy faces and dark bodies like Andrena Barbara (mining bee). Other bee families have what is called multivoltinism- meaning they have two to three generations per year.

 

In today’s anthropogenic-modified world we have to account for other factors when it comes to knowing flight seasons and the bee species that will come out based on their nesting, foraging and social behaviors. The lack of foraging resources from a previous year will yield more or less individuals per species and impact their reproductive success. Temperature changes will also modify when bees come out of their nest, but this also impacts flowering times for plant species; Even flooding events can cause a bee to come out later or not come out at all! You might be thinking, well, there is nothing I can do about that! However, one thing we all can do is help ecosystems recover. For example, your

A brilliant green native Agapostemon bee species. Photo by Melina Lozano Duran

garden has a micro-ecosystem. If you plant all native plant species from Georgia, and avoid applying any pesticide, you are already contributing to the conservation of native bees and other insect pollinators.

In the Metro Atlanta area, expect to see species of the Halictidae- commonly known as sweat bees and Apidae Family- long-tongue bees coming out for the first flight. Species like Xylocopa sp (carpenter), Bombus sp (bumble), Apis sp. (honeybee). All long tongue bees are the first ones to start foraging on available floral sources. Panurginus sp, which can be rare but is definitely a species that comes out in April after a long Fall and Winter nesting.   Another very important characteristic of most native bees in the United States is that most are generalists, meaning they forage on several plant genuses and do not have a one-on-one relationship with a specific plant species or a sole plant genus. When living in a urban environment like Atlanta, we must remember people have introduced several non-native plants like Chiomanthus praecox (Japanese allspice) and bees actually forage on it, especially when native plants are scarce. Another good example of Spring bloom is Erythronium americanum (yellow adder’s tongue). It’s a known associate of several bees in the families Andrenidae (mining bees), Halictidae (sweat bees) and Megachilidae (leaf cutter bees).

Erythronium americanum, Trout Lily.

Sources:

Bees of Georgia, http://native-bees-of-georgia.ggc.edu/. Stewart, N and Schlueter, M. 2017

Michener, D.C, The Bees of the World, Baltimore Maryland. The John Hopkins University Press 2000, 2007.


A Winter Project – Preparing for Spring

by Clair Eisele 

Winter can be a tough time for those of us who love to be outside in our gardens.  

The ground is cold and hard, most of the plants are dormant and aren’t showing any foliage, and there aren’t any pollinators out to prove our efforts.  But, despite the cold and the lack of (visible) flora and fauna, winter can be an excellent time to focus on infrastructure and design. This winter, at Beech Hollow, one of our projects has been reworking our Shade Beds.

The_“shade bed” is what we call the garden we have designated for parent stock plants that require more shade than the plants in our “sun beds.”  The shade bed is an area roughly 3,900 sq ft that is nestled under a canopy of loblolly pines, oaks, elms, and sweet gum trees, near the main driveway and across from the parking area of the farm.  The previous design was 4 row beds and 2 “keyhole” beds (circular, round, raised beds) that are home to many shade-loving, Georgia native plants. This design held up for many years and throughout the seasons we were able to see which plants were doing well and which ones should be moved.

But Pandra had bigger plans for the shade beds.  As an artist and a bit of a design and history buff, she wanted to transform the shade beds into a place where she, her employees, and BHF patrons could enjoy a peaceful garden landscape that displayed the diverse beauty of Georgia native plants.  And, of course, somewhere that would entice the native pollinators, as well.

It started with an idea based loosely off Chinese and Japanese garden landscaping, in which a space can be transformed with plants from a flat, tidy, farmlike setting, to a lush, more natural setting, using plants as borders and attention grabbers.  After a few different layouts were scribbled on paper and measurements were made and remade, we put our tools where our thoughts were and set forth to bring the ideas to life.

First we used our magnificent rogue hoes to clear the blackberries/Rubus armenicus, greenbriars/Smilex bona-nox, Carolina Jessamine/Gelsemium sempervirens, violets/Viola labradorica, and other invasive, unwanted “volunteers” from between the existing beds.  We also removed many small saplings of Loblolly Pine/Pinus taeda, Sweetgum/Liquidambar styraciflua, and oak, to make room for native species. Next, we laid down hoses and used landscape marking paint to layout a new meandering path that starts and ends at the main entrance.  From there we scraped the new path to remove weeds and move the nice, loamy, topsoil from the pathway to the new bed space (no point in letting all that viable topsoil go to waste under a path!). Since our new beds were not built yet, we left portions of the old beds that were filled with dormant root systems in place until we could safely transplant them.   Then it was time to start on the new beds!

We ordered 20 cubic yards of pine mulch that had been sitting for over 6 months (when using mulch to build soil it cannot be too fresh or it could be too hot to plant in).  We used brown paper (the kind found in rolls in the paint department) and tacked it down in 2 or more layers over all of the new bed space, then spread a thick layer (4-6 inches) of mulch on top.  We wanted to let the mulch sit for another 6 weeks for a couple of reasons; 1 – moving it from the pile and spreading it over the beds would create more heat, and 2 – we wanted it to be fully involved in the decomposition process and on its way to creating more soil when we did plant.

While waiting on the mulch to settle and do it’s thang, we turned our focus back to the path.  There were many large roots from the surrounding pines that protruded out of the ground and created tripping hazards, to level the ground we brought in bucket loads of granite sand and tamped it down to make a much smoother, safer path.  Once the sand was tamped (talk about a shoulder workout!) we laid horticulture cloth with landscaping staples to keep it in place. We scavenged our surrounding woods for fallen hardwoods and used these to line the path, creating a noticeable, but natural looking border.  

In a particularly low-lying spot, that naturally collects rainwater, we dug what we are calling a bog.  We hope that we will be able to maintain it, but judging by the water content that accumulates there now, it will probably end up being more of a pond.  Either way, the Shoal Lilies/ Hymenocallis coronaria and Jack in the Pulpit/Arisaema triphyllum will love it!

After our winter break, it was time to start transplanting and planting!  We carefully transplanted some Micheaux Lilies from the old beds/new path to an uphill location (they needed more drainage than they were getting before).  We moved large patches of red columbine/Aquilegia canadensis, and blue mist flower/Conoclinium coelestinum, as many Cornel Aster/Doellingeria infirma as we could find, Dwarf Iris, Iris verna, Rain Lilies/Zephyranthes atamasca, and a few Maple-leaf Viburnums/Viburnum acerifolium, just to name a few.  So far, we have added false indigo/Amorpha nitens, Bladdernut/Staphylea trifolia, Carolina phlox/Phlox caroliniana, Doll’s Eyes/Actaea pachypoda, and Relict Trillium, Trillium reliquum. We still have lots of transplanting and new planting to do, but this is a good start.

After some research and discussion we decided to use slate pathway to finish the trail.  We added a thin layer of sand on top of the hort cloth and then about 2-3 inches of the slate pathway mix.  This is a much stronger, longer lasting, and more aesthetically pleasing pathway than the hort cloth alone. Plus, it adds another couple of heavy layers to help keep the weeds from growing up through the path. We will continue adding to our new design by transplanting existing plants, introducing new ones, continuing to build the bog/pond, and by adding seating areas and bird baths to entice the local birds, bees, and patrons that we encourage to visit Beech Hollow.  Ephemeral, or  early blooming woodland, flowers in pictures from top down: Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis, buds of Alum Root, Heuchera americana, Jacobs ladder, Polemonium reptans, about to unfurl, Rain Lily, Zephyranthes atamasco, and Relict Trillium, Trillium reliquum.


Why does a Veggie Garden Need Flowers? or What is a Bee Pasture?

Why plant flowers for your veggie garden? Because a bee’s gotta eat. And bee larvae do as well.

Native bees emerge before most crops come into season, and they offer important pollination services for free. Don’t get me wrong, honeybees are great, but native bees offer more varied pollination services than honeybees are able to. (More on this below.) Food crops have a very specific and short bloom period, and then we have bred our crop plants to spend several weeks building delicious fruits and veggies.

That scenario makes the vegetable garden without flowers a food desert where the bee is concerned; most bees still need to forage for nectar and pollen after a crop is done blooming. So, what’s a bee to do in the meantime? As I said, a bee’s gotta eat, and biological imperatives being what they are, a bee has to provide food for her young. Bees won’t migrate out of your crop area if nectar and pollen are available. An abundance and variety of flowering plants will help your pollinator populations grow and become well established.                                                                                                                    

 

 

 

Pictures from left to right: a Mason Bee species with a heavy pollen load  on a native sunflower species, Helianthus porteri,  a green halictid bee, Agapostemon virescens, on a an aster species, and a Rusty Belted Bumblebee, Bombus griseocollus, gathering pollen from a St. Johnswort, Hypericum frondosum.

What food, exactly, does a bee get from flowers? Pollen is packed full of protein, and is mostly used as food for the developing larvae. Pollen also contains a wide variety of fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.  Nectar is mostly used by adults for energy to forage and build nests. It contains high levels of carbohydrates (sugars), amino acids, lipids, antioxidants, volatile oils, etc. Nectar is also regurgitated and dehydrated into honey by the few species that produce it.

Some bees are generalists and collect pollen from any available flowers. Other bees are specialists and collect pollen from only one type of flower. Most probably fall somewhere in between, collecting from a few preferred floral sources, but little is known about the foraging behaviors of most bees.  Although most bees are picky about the pollen they will feed their young, they will feed on nectar from a variety of flowers.

What did I mean, honeybees can’t pollinate everything? It is true, honeybees are wonderful pollinators, but there are crops that they can’t pollinate. Bumblebees and some Mason bees sonicate tomatoes, all of the nightshade family (peppers, eggplants, etc) as well as all blueberries. Honeybees can’t sonicate, so those flowers will not release their pollen to honeybees. Which means, well, no fruit and veggie crops to eat. There are also native bees that are more effective pollinators of certain crops than honeybees. It takes about 250-300 Mason Bees to pollinate an acre of apple trees; compare that to 10,000 – 20,000 honeybees. Honeybees do a lot of other work, like making honey, just to bee fair and balanced.

Bee meadows can also provide bee nesting habitat for native bees: Well drained patches of soil are important nest sites for ground nesting bees, naturally occurring berry canes and hollow twigs provide nests for mason bees, and tussock forming native grasses make good sites for many species of bumblebees to nest under.

How to Feed YOUR Bees:

Here is a list of Southeastern Native Plants for summer foraging, please see the previous post for early spring plants.

Early to Mid Summer Native Plants for the Southeastern US:

  • Black Cohosh, Actaea racemosa, May-Jun, white, 2-3’
  • Meadow Garlic, Allium canescens, May- Jun, white/pink, 1.5’
  • Flatrock Allium, Allium cuthbertii, May, white/purple,1.5’
  • Pussytoes, Antennaria plantaginifolia, May, white, 0.5’
  • Butterflyweed Asclepias tuberosa, May, orange, 3 – 4’
  • Pink Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, May, pink, 4 – 6’
  • White False Indigo, Baptisia albescens, May, white, 3’
  • Blue false indigo, Baptisia australis, May, blue, 3’
  • Mouse Eared Coreopsis, Coreopsis auriculata, May, gold,0.1’
  • Lance Leaved Coreosis, Coreopsis lanceolata, May-Jun, gold, 2-3’
  • Large Flowered Coreopsis, Coreopsis grandiflora, May-Jun, gold, 2-3’
  • Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, May-Jul, purple/pink 3- 4’
  • Wavyleaf Coneflower, Echinacea simulata, May-Jul, pink, 3- 4’
  • Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccafolium, Jun, green/white, 3-5’
  • Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum, Jun-Aug, white, 4-5’
  • Cranesbill, Geranium maculatum, May, pink, 1.5’
  • Indian Physic, Gillenia stipulata, May-Jun, white/crimson 2-3’
  • Bowman’s root, Gillenia trifolata, May-Jun, white/crimson, 2-3’
  • Blue Flag, Iris virginica, May purple, 2- 3’
  • Blazing Star, Liatris spicata, May, Jun, 4-5’
  • Spoonleaf Barbara’s Buttons, Marshallia obovata, May, white, 2’
  • Monkeyflower, Mimulus ringens, May, Jun, pink, 3’
  • Beebalm, Monarda fistulosa, May, June, Jul, pink, 3-4’
  • Scarlet beebalm, Monarda didyma, May-June, scarlet, 3-4’
  • Sundrops, Oenothera fruticosa, May, Jun, yellow, 2- 3’
  • Southern Beardtongue, Penstemon australis, May-Jul, pink, 3’
  • Appalachian Beardtongue, Penstemon canescens, May-July, pink, 3’
  • Talus Slope Penstemon, Penstemon digitalis, May-Jun, pink, 3- 4’
  • Black eyed Susan, Rudbeckia fulgida, May-Jul gold/brown, 3’
  • Black eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta, May-Jul, gold/brown, 3’
  • Hoary Skullcap, Scutellaria incana, May-Jun, blue, 2 – 3’
  • Veiny skullcap, Scutellaria nervosa, May-Jun, pink, 1’
  • Blue-eyed grass, Sisyrinchium spp, May-Jun, blue, 1’
  • Star Chickweed, Stellaria pubera, May, white,1’
  • Wood Poppy, Stylophorum diphyllum, May-June, yellow, 2’
  • Spiderworts, Tradescantia spp. May-Aug, purple, 2.5’

Vines:

  • Cross Vine, Bignonia capreolata, Jun, orange/yellow
  • Climbing Hydrangea, Decumaria barbera, Jun, white

Shrubs/Trees:

  • Fringe tree, Chionanthus virginicus, May, white, fragrant, 12’
  • Sweetspire, Itea virginica, May, white, 5’
  • Bigleaf Magnolia, Magnolia macrophylla, May, white, 35’
  • Sparkleberry, Vaccinium arborescens, May, white, 7’
  • Maple-leaf Viburnum, Viburnum acerifolium, May, white, 5’
  • Possum Haw, Viburnum nudum, May, white, 7’
  • Rusty Blackhaw, Viburnum rufidulum, May, white,10’
  • New Jersey Tea, Ceanothus americanus, May-Jun, white, 3’
  • Woodland hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens, May-Jun, white,12’
  • St Johnswort, Hypericum frondosum, May-June, yellow, 3’
  • Smooth azalea, Rhododendron arborescens, May-June, white, 7’

 


Some Early Blooming Native Plants

Our native bees have spent the last few million years evolving with our native plants. Not only do we have over 400 species of native bees, Georgia has 4000 native plant species to go with them! There is no lack of beautiful native plants that bloom from March through November! Here is a short list of some native species that bloom in early spring:

Perennials:

  • Blue Star, Amsonia tabernaemontana, Apr summer blue 3-4′
  • Hepatica, Anemone americana, Mar-Apr, lavender blue 0.5′
  • Windflower, Anemone quinquefolia, Apr white – pink 0.5′
  • Thimbleweed, Anemone virginiana, Apr white 2′
  • Jack in the Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum, Apr-May green /maroon 2-3′
  • Wild Ginger, Asarum arifolium, Apr-May pink-green with maroon spots 0.5′
  • Green and Gold, Chrysogonum virginianum, Apr-May yellow 0.5′
  • Toothwort, Cardamine diphylla, White Mar-Apr .75′
  • Woodland Phlox, Phlox divaricata, Apr-May blue to pink 2′
  • Thrift, Phlox subulata or nivea, Apr-May blue to pink 2′
  • Crested Iris, Iris cristata, April lavender 0.5′
  • Vernal iris, Iris verna, April purple 1′
  • Jacobs Ladder, Polemonium reptans, April blue 1′
  • Woodland Anemone, Thalictrum thalictroides, Apr-May white 1′
  • Bird’s foot Violet, Viola pedata, April April lavender 0.5′
  • Barren Strawberry, Waldsteinia lobata, April yellow 0.5′

Vines:

  • Carolina Jessamine, Gelsemium sempervirens, Feb yellow
  • Coral honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens, Apr-May red

Early blooming shrubs:

  • Red buckeye, Aesculus pavia, Apr red with orange 15’
  • Painted buckeye, Aesculus sylvatica, Apr yellow-green & orange 15’
  • Shining False Indigo, Amorpha nitens, Apr deep purple 12’
  • Black Chokeberry, Aronia melanocarpa, Apr white to pink 12’
  • Red Chokeberry, Aronia pyrifolia, Apr white to pink 12’
  • Small flowered pawpaw, Asimina parviflora, Apr maroon 5’
  • Paw paw, Asimina triloba, Apr maroon 12’
  • Redbud, Cercis canadensis, Apr pink 10’
  • Parsley hawthorn, Crataegus marshallii, Apr white 12’
  • Spicebush, Lindera benzoin, Apr yellow-green 15’
  • Mock orange, Philadelphus inodorus , Apr white 7’
  • Chickasaw Plum, Prunus angustifolius, Apr white – pink 15’
  • Piedmont azalea, Rhododendron canescens, Apr pink 7’
  • Oconee azalea, Rhododendron flammeum, Apr-May orange 7’
  • Elderberry Sambucus canadensis , Apr white 12’
  • Vaccinium elliottii, Elliott’s blueberry, Apr white 5’

Spring Fling at Beech Hollow Farm 2019

Come celebrate the start of our Spring sale season, rain or shine!
Free kids art projects at 11 am, and again at 1 pm. Special offerings of native plants for hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. Special spring opening native plant discounts – Refreshments – Face Painting – FREE Kid’s Pollinator Art Activities – Live Music!

pictures from Spring Fling 2018:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Saskatoons! The Serviceberry

Call it a Juneberry, Serviceberry, Shadbush, Sarvisberry, or Saskatoon; the  Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp) is a native tree that occurs throughout North America. Roughly 14 different species species range from the East to West coasts, and from the northern tip of Alaska down across Canada into the southern reach of Texas.

Currently, Serviceberry is a very popular blog topic, for a lot of good reasons. A member of the rose family, it’s smothered in beautiful white flowers in the spring. Naturally a small tree, with large berries that are dark blue to purple when ripe, it’s perfect for an edible landscape in either sun or part shade. As a tasty and nutritious fruit packed with anthocyanins and vitamins, it’s got all the right healthy talking points. Beyond all the recent chatter found online, this small fruit tree has a long, deep history with both the early people of North America and the Western explorers and Colonists.

As I was rooting around in the Congressional Archive and the internet for cultural history on the uses of Serviceberry, references to pemikan (also spelled pemmican) kept popping up. Containing 50% dried, pulverized meat, 20% soft tallow, 20% hard tallow, pemikan often had 10% dried berries added into the mix, if they were available. The berry I found mentioned most frequently in historical pemikan recipes was the Serviceberry.

One of the reasons most often cited for adding berries to pemikan was as a flavoring. Consider a cold dark winter, with not much fresh food available, dietary protein and fat needs would be taken care of by the meat and tallow, but Vitamins A, B complex, and C, bioflavinoids, anthocyanins and fiber would be more plentiful in fruits and veggies. In addition, the Serviceberry fruit contains protein as well, so it’s not surprising that this berry was an important food. Bountiful Serviceberry harvests would be either dried and stored as loose berries, or mashed into flat cakes and stored for lean times.

For the First Peoples of the North American Plains, storing enough pemikan and dried Serviceberry, along with other dried berries and roots, could be a matter of life and death in a land where winters were long and winter food was scarce. In warmer seasons, animals such as buffalo and elk were more likely to be in the open prairies and meadows eating tender grasses and flowering herbs, making clearer targets for hunters. During the winter, with animals sheltering in woody thickets, hunting was more difficult. Pemikan was a way to preserve meat for months, or even years, after a season of successful hunts. If a tribe’s cache of pemikan ran out, they survived on their winter stores of dried fruits and roots.

In summer months, when Serviceberries ripened in June, both Colonists and First Peoples ate them fresh off of the tree. Colonists had plenty of their own Western style summer recipes for serviceberries, including preserves, tarts and pies. If we wander back into the culinary delights of the 21st Century, the internet is full of Serviceberry recipes in pies, jellies, jams, compotes, scones, galettes, and beer.

If all that berry history and berry goodness doesn’t tempt you into planting your very own Saskatoon/Serviceberry in your native garden, perhaps a butterfly-in-your-habitat-garden reason will: Serviceberry is a larval host plant for the Red-spotted Purple Butterfly or White Admiral Butterfly, Limenitis arthemis.  Limenitis arthemis comes in two color forms: The White Admiral of the northern USA through Canada, and the Red Spotted Purple, which is the color form of this butterfly in the southern USA. The Red Spotted Purple color form mimics the bad tasting Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor) to fend off hungry birds.

The Red Spotted Purple frequently uses many trees in the southern United States from the

By Mike [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

rose family such as Amelanchier spp, Crataegus spp, Malus spp, Prunus spp, as well as several other common native trees as larval host species. Adults tend to inhabit deciduous or mixed woodlands, close to the larval host trees. The female lays eggs at the tip of larval host plant’s leaves. Two broods of caterpillars will span the summer from April through October; the second or possibly a third brood will overwinter in a hibernaculum to emerge the next spring.

Red Spotted Purple adults feed/nectar on small white flowers, sap flows, and rotting fruit, even dung. It should be easy to host the adults in a native perennial garden, once a larval host tree or two is in place in the garden.  We have several Serviceberry Trees planted at Beech Hollow, but after writing this post, I think it’s time I planted a couple in my yard…

More on the Red Spotted Purple or White Admiral Butterfly here.

More on wild edibles here, and here

More on habitat gardening here.


Native Fruit Trees: The Paw Paw Post

Have you ever seen a Zebra Swallowtail? If you have, you weren’t just lucky, there was a Paw Paw involved, and it was somewhere nearby. This beautiful butterfly exclusively lays its eggs on Paw Paw species. “Larval host species” is the official phrase that describes the special relationship between a butterfly it’s host plant(s).

When Mike, Jeff, and I first started hiking the forests at Beech Hollow, we would catch occasional glimpses of the Zebra Swallowtail. That’s because there are Paw Paws in our woods. There are Dwarf and Common Paw Paws in undisturbed woodlands throughout Atlanta, in Decatur, Stone Mountain Park, Mount Arabia, Panola Mountain, and Athens. The Common Paw Paw is scattered throughout North Georgia and the Georgia Piedmont. The Dwarf Paw Paw has a more southerly range, hugging the Coastal Plains and with scattered distribution in the Piedmont. Look for mesic ravines in mature, undisturbed forests, and you may find one of two species of Paw Paw.

The flower of Asimina triloba, or Common Paw Paw.

Now that we have planted Paw Paws on the valley ridge near the nursery, we see more of these butterflies, in our flower beds and nursery, sipping nectar.

The Common Paw Paw is the northernmost species of this mostly tropical family; in Georgia it occurs roughly from the Piedmont northward into the North Eastern United States and Nova Scotia. Often a small tree that can reach 40 feet in height, this species of Paw Paw can also occur as a large multi-trunked shrub. Maroon flowers, one inch across, with six leathery petals,  appear in late spring, nestled under long, dark green, shield shaped leaves. The lumpy yellow-green fruit ripens in late summer or early fall, and is called either

A green pawpaw on the Common Paw Paw tree, Asimina triloba.

the Custard Apple or Paw Paw. At about four to six inches long by two to three inches wide, this is the largest native fruit in North America. Paw Paws tend to be rhizomatous, but they spread slowly. If left to their own devices, one Paw Paw can make a small patch, but it will take two individual plants of the same species to make fruit.

The Dwarf or Small Flower Paw Paw is shorter than the Common Pawpaw, topping out at 6-8 feet in height.   It’s fruit is generally two and a half to three inches in length, smaller than the Common Paw Paw, but just as edible.

One of the delightful things about the Paw Paw species in our area is that they make fruit in the shade. They want shade. You can have a shady back yard, and fruit, as long as you wake up before the birds and the squirrels. Paw Paws make great understory shrubs and an excellent habitat species, providing both cover and food for birds and other wildlife. Plus, your garden can be graced by that glorious beauty, the Zebra Swallowtail. What more can you ask for?


Finally, Fall Is Here!

The Southern heat is about to leave us for some of our favorite weather here at Beech Hollow Wildflower Farm.  Despite all the excitement and energy folks put into planting in the Spring, Fall can be the best time to plant your favorite perennial wildflowers, trees and shrubs.  Here in the south, in October and even into November, the soil is still plenty warm for planting while the air is comfortably cool enough to make plants happy. Our winters are mild enough to give the plants a great time to settle into their new spots without getting scorched by the summer sun and are then well established to produce new growth once Spring and Summer come.  Come visit us at our Fall plant sales, grab some native perennials, let those roots set in over the cooler months and then just wait for those blooms to greet you in the spring!

Want some immediate color for Fall?  Don’t think that the leaves turning brown and falling means that you’re headed into dreary colorless colder months.  There are plenty of wildflowers at Beech Hollow to bring a little colorful pop of joy to each season. Some beautiful blooms will certainly warm you up when the air is cool.  It’s an excellent practice to plan successive bloom times throughout the year in the garden. The best thing about staggering bloom times is that our friendly pollinators appreciate it too!

If you are looking for a particular plant, let us know by sending us a Facebook message or an email at info@beechhollowfarms.com. Let us know which plant and which sale you plan on attending and we will make sure we have it there for you!


Freedom Park Pollinator Garden

by Jeff Killingsworth

Carol Vanderschaaf, at the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden

 In 2005, Carol Vanderschaaf started the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden with Phil Edwards and the Dekalb Master Gardener Association along with Catharine Kuchar of the Audubon Society.  Together, they initially planted a small selection of native plants and shrubs.  The site is atop a small hill between a retaining wall and the PATH trail that runs through the park.  Three large White Oaks in an east/west line, a north facing slope, a well mowed southern boundary, and several old driveway excavations make for a lot of niches with different conditions.  In the following 13 years, the garden has expanded 3 times, and now contains over 40 different species of native grasses, herbs and shrubs, 2 bluebird nesting boxes and a bird bath.  Many volunteers from the neighborhood, students from nearby Mary Lin Elementary, and other organizations  have helped to install plants, remove invasives, control erosion, spread mulch and generally maintain the garden for the benefit of pollinators, birds, and other wildlife (including the human kind).

Cub Scout Troop 586 finishing a hard day’s work at the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden.

Care of the garden was passed from Carol to the staff at Beech Hollow Farm in 2015, and we are still working with any volunteers that care to help.  Last fall we had had Cub Scout Troop 586 out to help pull invasive vines, and we are now coordinating with members of the Freedom Park Conservancy to hold regular volunteer days.  The main issue facing the long term success of the garden is non-native, invasive plants out-competing the native plantings that nourish the birds, butterflies and bees.  Seeds from the Bradford Pear trees that line the nearby golf course are continually deposited in the garden and sprout up

Ilex verticillata, Winterberry, provides excellent forage for songbirds.

thorny little trees with leaves that no native caterpillars will eat.  Porcelain berry vines climb over the native shrubs and rob them of sunlight, and the only bug that seems to eat them are Japanese beetles, which we don’t want to encourage with more free food.  In lieu of natural insect controls, repeated pulling and cutting of these and other invasives keeps them in check and allows the natives a fair chance at sunlight and nutrients as they sacrifice leaves to hungry caterpillars that then feed (baby) birds or grow up to be pollinators.

Butterflyweed in the garden, a milkweed that supports Monarch Butterflies

 Volunteers and caring people are the reason that the garden exists and continues to thrive at the corner of North Ave and Candler Park Drive.   Check it out if you should happen to be in the neighborhood.   It’s not obvious from the street, but up close you’re almost always bound to see something blooming, hear birds calling in the trees overhead or frolicking in the birdbath, and see a few butterflies and bees sipping nectar in the shade.  If you are interested in volunteering on a Sunday morning to help the garden grow, you can check our calendar or email pandra@beechhollowfarms.com for information about the next volunteer day.

Wood Poppy, an early spring ephemeral at the garden