Tag Archives: bees


I turned 45 a few weeks ago.

That’s halfway to 90 which means the odds are stacked against me now if I want to say that half of my life still remains.

I know, I despise age complaints as much as you do. There’s always someone who can one up you or has been there before.

“You think that’s bad, I’m 63 and I have consistent pain in my …”

“Try being 76 with …”

“You have no idea what getting old means you son of a …”

My son turns 15 in a few days.

15 is scarily close to 16 which is the age where he is eligible to obtain his driver’s permit.

That’s some insane shit.

We moved into our current home in 2004.

My youngest child is currently 11 and if my math serves me correctly, she should be graduating from college in 2028.

My wife and I have talked about moving to the southern U.S soon after she finishes her schooling (fingers crossed for no medical school or graduate school, not that I wouldn’t be supportive but holy $$$$$ Batman).

That means we’re beyond the halfway point of residing in our current abode.

That means I’m beyond the half way point of composing my masterpiece of a garden.

Numbers are so stressful.

Here is where I now surprise you.

While the fear of my mortality has me up at night and seeking spiritual awakening and I’m genuinely missing the younger versions of my offspring, I love my fucking garden to pieces.

Seriously, no self-deprecation to follow.

It kicks ass and it’s all because of me.

It isn’t perfect and there’s much work to still do in order to obtain world domination, but I look at it right now and feel total fulfillment. It makes me smile. It moves me. It holds countless memories. It makes me mutter “Hell yeah” and it provides me with the perfect muse.

And to bring it all on home, I witnessed my wife utter these exact words as we strolled back to and within view of our home after a short walk last evening:

“Thank you for such a beautiful home.”

“It looks so lush.”

“It’s so not cookie cutter.”

Grab me a kerchief.  

The icing on the cake came courtesy of my daughter:

“I’ve never seen so many bees and butterflies in my life.”

It isn’t easy for me to speak so positively without a bit of snark but I’m going to do just that. The feeling may be fleeting and it may be due to the fact that I enjoyed some hemp oil with my coffee a few hours ago, but who cares. It’s here and now.

A few of my own observations from the weekend:

I finally understand the appeal of Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua ‘Blonde Ambition’) with its flag-like flowers that add a fantastic “see-through” effect.



The Allium ‘Mt. Sinai’ is thriving like never before and seems cool with a rather wet soil. It also goes without saying that the deer never touch it.


The fading of the Astilbe flowers doesn’t take away from this section of  garden and I could argue why it looks even better while in decline.


The late afternoon sun completely lights up this part of the garden.



While Veronica ‘First Love’ doesn’t blow you away, its long blooming period (6-8 weeks) makes it incredibly useful.


It wasn’t planned and I’ll never understand why, but the droves of japanese beetles that arrive in my garden this time of year, tend to congregate on one shrub (Dappled Willow or Salix) and inflict their damage there only.

I can deal with allowing them to go to town for a while and then cutting back the chewed up branches weeks later. It has become the sacrificial lamb.

I would ask that they get a room though when things get frisky.


The following pics celebrate all those who frequent the flowers and bring the garden to life, from morning to evening, all summer long.





Butterfly and Bee chasing

I really wish I could record myself as I’m busy chasing around the butterflies and bees. There is nothing goofier than watching a 6 foot 3 inch man run from flower to flower trying to get the perfect shot of one of these creatures. The only thing funnier than watching me gallop around like an infant chasing a balloon, is watching me attempt to get into position for the money shot. It’s like a lesson in how not to perform a yoga move. Downward Dog gone wrong.

So as you look at these photos and the video below, just keep in mind what went into securing them. Know that there is someone on the other end of the camera who puts his own awkwardness aside for the benefit of the reader/viewer. A true selfless man who looks possible injury in the face and pushes on.

I am a warrior.


butterfly coneflower


butterfly cone flower 2


macro 2


butterfly bee balm


butterfly bee balm 2





Hanging with the bees

One of my favorite things to do is to sit on my front sidewalk amongst the Catmint plants (c’mon, don’t judge) and watch the bees jump from bloom to bloom. It is my own form of meditation.

Here is a sample of my happy place:  

Trying to capture the quick moving bees on camera is a challenge but one I am always trying to perfect:

I’m getting there but I can do better.


What green means to me

Admittedly, I am cynical to a fault and should probably tone down the sarcasm as well (maybe it is a New Jersey thing). I’ve started to see this rub off on my children and know that I need to tone it down a bit. I’m not looking to change what I believe is in my nature, I’m just looking to scale it back a notch or two for the benefit of those around me.

However, one area where I’ve seen cynicism grow to levels beyond what I would have ever expected is with the “green” movement. Maybe it is politically based more than anything else, but to deny that there is an issue with global warming, as an example, is simply naïve. There may be a number of different ways to address the problem, but you have to first acknowledge that it is truly a crisis.

The corporation where I work recently installed water-less urinals that save upwards of 40,000 gallons of water a year. While recently using said urinal, a colleague said to me “You know they installed these because they wanted to save money, it has nothing to do with the environment”. My cynical nature wanted to take over and say “You’re right my friend” but after quick reflection, I realized, who cares what the true purpose behind it was, it is a good thing – end of story.

I’m probably going to bother some of my readers with this next topic, but I have no use for synthetic fertilizers of any sort for a lawn and have never used them. I don’t need a perfect lawn like the Scott’s commercials will sell to you and the sooner you realize the whole Scott’s program is a marketing scheme, the better off you will be. I don’t even use natural products on the lawn. I simply cut the lawn at a higher setting as it will aid in blocking out the weed seeds from germinating and will put much less stress on the grass leaves. Standing over the lawn with a hose and just spraying it haphazardly doesn’t help a bit – it just wastes valuable water. Your lawn does not need as much water as you think. In fact, I never water my lawn and just let nature take its course.

So back to those same kiddies mentioned earlier. My son is 7 and my daughter is 4. They are at a very impressionable age right now (well not always with my daughter … there’s the cynical John sneaking in again) and my wife and I have accepted the responsibility of taking advantage of that. If you read my blog you know I only recently installed compost bins. I am late to the game, I know, but better late than never and man do I feel strongly about it. Each night after dinner, we evaluate the scraps left over and determine what can be composted. Once that is done, the kids march the scraps out to the compost bins and throw them in. Both kids have asked us more than once why they are doing it and I guarantee they can tell you, very eloquently, what the benefits are. Chalk one up for Mom and Dad.

I am very proud of the gardens I’ve created and the flowers that are abundant as a result. This results in high bee traffic which obviously is a very good thing … except to my son. He is terrified and doesn’t want to hear about all the so-called benefits. But as any good parent will do, I continue to hammer home why he shouldn’t be scared and why they are crucial to the environment. He may not care right now, but I know it will click eventually and that will be a happy day.

I am not claiming to be an angel when it comes to being an environmentally friendly guy in all ways possible. But I am making it a top priority to educate my children on what we all can do to make our world a better place. If they can be more responsible in their lifetime than I have been, then I have done my job.

I’ve written this post as part of the Garden Bloggers Sustainable Living Project, which is a series of blog entries written by garden bloggers (much more prominent than me to say the least) in anticipation of Earth Day on April 22nd. I urge you to do even one thing that will benefit the environment and I guarantee you won’t stop there – and that my friends is not cynical.