Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Insects in the Garden

This week at Restoring the Landscape with Native Plants Heather is discussing the insects in our gardens each and every day.  Monday was beetles, Tuesday bees and today it is flies.  Tomorrow will bring wasps, then butterflies...

I wanted to participate in this carnival as insects are such an integral part of the garden but it seems I have some difficulty both photographing and identifying bugs in my garden so I decided instead of doing separate posts on each insect  I would instead take a walk through my very new garden (we're in year 2!) and see what plants were attracting insects.  Not all plants are created equal and some are more beloved of insects than others.  What I discovered was an assortment of insects and just a few favoured plants.

Last year I noted several blogs that mentioned Borage was a favoured plant among pollinators.  Planting Borage will encourage pollinators to visit and also pollinate your vegetables as well.  So in my spring seed order Borage was added to the list and I have not been disappointed.  Over the last month these flowers have been attracting insects of all sorts, from black wing moths to honey bees.

At least I believe this is a honey bee.  and this is the reason why I'm identifying plants instead of insects in this post!

Another favoured plant has been the oregano or marjoram.  I brought home two of these plants from the plant sale this spring and have made several pasta dishes with the tasty fresh leaves.  The plants have gone to flower in the past couple weeks and I'm quite captivated by the pretty pink blooms.

I had no idea they would be so pretty.  And the pollinators think so too as this plant is constantly buzzing with excited insects like this large bumble bee above and the fly below.

A plant that always seems to have a lot of action is my Darwin's Blue Speedwell.  I have two of these plants, purchased last summer, and the tall spikes of tiny purple flowers are a big hit.

Another new to me this year plant is Sea Holly or Eryngium maritimum.  No one wanted these plants at the plant sale.  Can you imagine?  Okay, well they looked a bit depressed at the time, half way dead in fact.  Sea hollies don't like being transplanted but I knew with a little care they would be glorious.  Sure enough they are blooming and buzzing now in August.

A bit of a surprise was the chamomile.  I grew this last year and don't really remember it being a big hit but this year it seems to be the happening spot in town, especially for the lady bugs.

How many lady bugs do you count?
Look closely at that photo.  Amazing, isn't it?  Each flower is absolutely laden with these insects.  Was the chamomile acting as nursery?  Or did it have a bad case of aphids I didn't notice?  Whatever the case these insects are making themselves at home and I'm happy to have them.

Not just the ladybugs enjoyed these flowers
This next plant wasn't planted intentionally.  As I dug up sod for new garden beds I evidently stirred up some dormant seeds.  I've let them grow in places and the bugs are very appreciative.

The stink bugs are back!
Large plants several feet high with tiny pink flowers are attracting bees, flies, stink bugs, moths and grasshoppers.  Weeds have their purpose too!


  1. Marguerite,
    Thanks for participating. Your insects and plants are great.

  2. What a great collection of plants to attract the pollinators. I tried Borage and had about seven or eight bloomed, and now? I think they are gone. Think it might have been bunnies? I don't know, very disappointed.
    Now, Sea Holly is one I am eyeing...think I have the perfect place for it.

  3. Hi there Marguerite girl : )
    I meant to plant borage every year as a companion plant to our grape vine .. I read some where that they encourage grape vines to produce more grapes .. not that we get to eat any .. the birds and insects beat us to them most times .. but herbs have beautiful flowers that most people have no idea of .. so it is niece to see them her girl!
    Joy : )

  4. Marguerite, I used to have a neighbor who raised honey bees, and as soon as my oregano bloomed, those bees would come zooming in. I think the flowers are pretty, too, but the downside is that they self-sow like crazy. Sometimes I think that eventually I will have a garden that consists entirely of oregano and chives! -Jean

  5. You are clearly making a lot of bugs very happy indeed! The chamomile is wonderful, I love the scent, and would love to grow it but my current soil is too heavy and I don't have enough sun. One day... Like eryngiums! Glad I am not the only one to have difficulty identifying bees.

  6. I will say I am bad at buying herb plants and not use them for cooking. I don't know how to use them sometimes. I do buy them for their great flowers to bring the bees something to eat. The plants do smell good when I weed around them. Probably what I enjoy the most.

  7. Another insectary plant is smokey bronze fennel. Last year I grew it in the garden and it was constantly covered with cool bugs. This year it went into a crowded pot and the plant is still small with very little bug action. Next year, it's getting it's own pot! Thanks for the info about the other plants. It looks like my fall plant list will be getting a bit longer!

  8. I also have veronica and oregano in my garden. I have a perennial oregano called 'Rotkugel' that might do well in your climate. It has cool purplish leaves. :o)

  9. Marguerite,
    Love all your bugs. I didn't realize we had stink bugs here. They can be nasty in other states ruining apple crops.
    I think I may plant some borage next year also.

  10. Heather, i really liked your idea about focusing on bugs. They are so important to our gardens. I wish i was better able to identify them.

    Janet, my package of borage seed said it was an edible plant. I haven't tried eating it but i wouldn't be surprised if the bunnies did.

    Joy , that seems to be a common theme here doesn't it? It hadn't really occurred to me but the strong smelling herbs must be good for pollinators.

  11. Thank you johanna, it feels like this garden is really starting to come alive.

    Jean, i had a feeling the oregano might be rambunctious. It has easily tripled in sjze since i purchased it.

    Janet, I`m having a lot of fun with new plants now that i have a sunny garden. I have long wanted to try sea holly and i jumped at the chance when these plants came up. I do miss having some true shade though.

    Tufa - you've hit on one of my favourite side benefits to herbs! I've long felt there is no chore more delightful than weeding lavender.

  12. Ts - i love fennel plants, glad to hear they are also good for pollinators. Despite how much my garden has grown there are so many plants i still would like to try.

    Witch - i just discovered stink bugs for the first time last year. They were quite fond of my cilantro and tomatoes but luckily did not seem to be on the apples. You're right that could be very disastrous.

  13. Borage is always on my list of plants to grow but for some reason it never makes it into the garden. I do love that shade of blue so I really must plant some next year. One of my best plants for attracting pollinators is fennel. I have both the purple and green leaved ones and both seem to always be covered with pollinators of all sizes. Their fine foliage is also a great contrast to most other plants.

  14. I planted Borage my first year In this garden, now it self seeds and I always have lots to spare. That herb in the second pic is oregano. I always dry mine for use in the winter. I use it fresh too of course. GReat post Marguerite.