Friday, May 13, 2011

Spring Native Plant Sale - May 14th

The Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society will be holding their Spring Native Plant Sale this Saturday, May 14th, from 9 a.m.  to 3 p.m.

More than 40 vendors of rare and unusual plants will be on hand, offering ferns, perennials for sun and shade, trees and shrubs  from the propagation area behind the Horticulture Center at Green Spring Gardens.

All money raised supports the chapter's educational and conservation efforts!

Green Spring Gardens is located at 4603 Green Spring Road – Alexandria, Virginia 22312

For directions:

10 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Honey Bees

Ahhhh, there is nothing quite like a little bit of coffee and chocolate to brighten the day!

As I sip and nibble, delighting in the heady aroma and sweet, savory flavors, my mind always wanders to the birds and the bees. Why? Because both chocolate and coffee are two of the 1000+ plants that depend on visits from the birds and the bees (and other pollinators) to help spread the love, or in their case, pollen, from flower to flower.

I love wandering through my garden and hearing the buzz of the visiting bees. But bees have many more talents that just pollinating our plants.

Here is a list of 10 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Honey Bees, which I collected from the Health Benefits of Honey Blog:

1) Bees tongues can help sniff out bombs – A company called Inscentinel Ltd. has developed Vapor Detection Instrumentation, which is scientific speak for a couple of bees taped to a piece of foam. The bees stick out their tongues when they smell an odor they have been trained to detect.

2) Honey bees can recognize faces – the honey bee, with a brain barely bigger than a pin head, can remember human faces for days after seeing them.

3) Bees are the only insects that produce edible food for humans (did you know that honey is actually bee puke? Ugh)

4) Some working bees can lift (in addition to their own bodies) 100% of their body weight.

5) Bees have been around (100 million years) much longer than humans (7 million years).

6) The queen bee lives up to 40 times longer than a worker bee.

7) The ONLY purpose in life, for the male bee, is to "service" the queen bee — and then he dies.

8) 3400 honey bees were taken on a NASA space flight.

9) Honey bees only use their stinger on vertebrates. When the bees are up against an invertebrate (such as a wasp) the worker bees will cluster around the insect and literally flex their muscles until the resulting heat kills the intruder. And if the heat doesn’t kill them, the lack of oxygen surely will.

10) The origin of the word honeymoon – In days of old, newlyweds were given a month’s worth of mead – a honey based booze – which they were to drink daily. The tradition was believed to promote matrimonial happiness and pregnancy… both things alcohol is very good at. We’ve been honeymooning ever since.

Stop back by on Monday when we'll have a post on How to Attract Pollinators to Your Garden

Here's a sharp idea! Get your garden tools in shape for the season - May 14th

Keeping your lawn mower blade sharpened is good for your lawn and good for the planet. According to experts at the Virginia Cooperative Extension, "The quickest way to improve lawn quality AND turf health is to clip it with a sharp blade, and a sharp blade will also improve fuel-use efficiency and extend engine life."

Sharpened blades are especially important during mid to late Spring, when cool-season grasses in the area form tough seedheads. Tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass and the fine-leaf fescues are all producing flowers and seed during this time of year in response to temperature, day length, and moisture. These tough seedhead stalks are designed for support and are much tougher to mow.

Clipping grass with a dull mower usually results in turf that initially has a ‘whitish’ cast (from the shredded leaf and seedhead tips) that ultimately becomes a ‘brown or tan’ cast as the damaged tissues slowly age and die. So, one way to immediately improve quality for most is to simply sharpen the blades. How often should one sharpen the blades? On average, most homeowners in Virginia should plan on sharpening their blades at least 3 times during the growing season.

With that in mind, I wanted to pass along this message I saw on a local gardening message board:

Back By Popular Demand - Saturday Morning John Vecciarrelli Will Offer Sharpening Services Next to Takoma DC Branch Library - 6900 Block of 5th St. N.W.

John Vecciarrelli's father Tony made his living sharpening knives, lawnmower blades, handmower blades and other tools all around the city. When John retired a few years ago, he began driving his dad's workshop in an old green step van to events around town, offering the same sharpening services.

Responding to requests from folks who couldn't come to last month's visit, this Saturday, May 14, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., John will again be parked on the 6900 block of 5th Street NW, between Cedar and Butternut, next to the Takoma DC branch library. If your mower hasn't been sharpened in years, or you've never known the joys of digging with a sharpened spade or trowel, you may want to come on over.

For more information, contact Dodie Butler, 202-643-6343.

Website by Water Words That Work LLC