Category: Blossomwood

what do you plant for a bee sanctuary?

I have been so pleasantly surprised every time I dig a hole for a tree on this land. I’ve heard the term “fertile river valley,” before — but never experienced it to this degree! The soil is gorgeous.

Since part of this adventure is a hope to share what we learn, I wanted to post about what we have planting on the farm in our past three months of stewardship. The season is right for planting trees now, so we are trying to get the year’s plantings in now. I’ve also included our wish list for the future.

Pictured above is our peach tree of the Frost variety. In speaking with neighbors we learned that was the best variety for the region. (Some said the only one that would give us peaches.) Fruit trees are generally a great bet for bees. Others we have planted include: crabapple, two plums, and quince. There were already four old apple trees, so I gave those a good pruning.

 

IMG_2613-1Above is a photo of heather. Two days after we planted it there were 5-7 bumble bees on each of three plants! In the bushy category we have also added three ceanothus plants, lavender, red osier dogwood, Indian plum, daphne, and flowering currant.

Here’s the flowering currant, right by the bridge to welcome visitors.

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I also chose that general location for the magnolia, so that at the first of the season we’ll have a burst of colorful blooms right at the entrance.

As far as flowering trees goes, I did a previous post about the Arbor Day Foundation, where you can buy very affordable seedlings. Of course, this is an exercise in patience since it will take years (decades) for them to grow into large trees. We have ordered, Northern Catalpa (2), Sourwood, Red maple (free with order,) Washington Hawthorn, Tulip Poplar, Forsynthia (2 free with order), Little Leaf Linden, Witchhazel, Black Tupelo, Sugar Maple, and Eastern Redbud. These are all spectacular bee forage trees. I encourage you to research them all. Gorgeous trees.

I’ve also ordered some willow. Most willows are great food for bees. I have a pink pussy willow known as Mt. Aso coming, as well as a curly willow and a basketmaking purpuera. The purpuera is also good for creating living willow structures, which I am excited to try out!

Last, but not least, we have some things started in the veggie garden. For the bees we have borage, poppies, and echinacea. For us we’ve put in an asparagus patch, ginger, and tumeric. Much more to come!

One challenging aspect that we are not very familiar with is how wildlife (including quite a large herd of elk!) will impact what we plant. We have caged the trees for their protection. We have a fence around the veggie garden, which we will fortify in time. We might build quite a bit more fencing than we have now… we will have to see how it goes. So far it seems that the elk avoid the areas near the house, but I have heard that can change pretty quickly.

Here’s some of our wish list for the future: (some for bee forage, some for perennial edibles)

More bee trees and bushes (with groves of like-species, but we’re starting with one of each to see how they do.) Japanese snowbell, winter jasmine, serviceberry, lilac, beautyberry, aralia, vitex.

Persimmon, pomegranate, paw paw, pear, hardy kiwi (I am rooting starts right now!) figs, grapes, rhubarb, artichoke, ramps, sea kale, sweet potato, ground nut, good king henry, lovage, french sorrel, plus every herb and medicinal plant we can find (with plans to build a formal herb garden.)

I’m sure more will get added… if you know of a great bee plant or perennial / self seeding non-invasive edible that would do well in Coastal Oregon, please let me know!

We love this land. Thank you for reading about our adventure!

Weeping Willow

It might not look like much now, but that spindly stick of a tree pictured above is going to grow into a Golden Weeping Willow.

Weeping Willows are beautiful trees. However, all willows get a bad reputation due to their habit of seeking water and, therefore, wrecking havoc on pipes. In the right setting, however, they can be wonderful trees.

An interesting fact about weeping willows from Vermont Willow Nursery is that all varieties contain genes from the Chinese Salix Babylonica, which is the only willow that has the weeping gene. The Golden Weeping Willow, which is a quite popular variety, is a hybrid of S. Babylonica and S. Alba v. Vitellina.

One exciting thing about willows (if you have the right space) is how quickly and easily they root and grow. You can put a dormant branch into moist soil and it will make a new tree! And they can grow up to 10 feet a year!

I recently spotted a gorgeous Golden Weeping Willow in Portland that had a bunch of suckers growing out from the bottom of it. Suckers are not a great thing for the mother tree in a confined space. I decided to rescue this one (always ask permission!) and plant it at Blossomwood Farmstead, since we have the perfect setting next to our pond.

I’ll post updates as to how it does over time. And don’t let me forget to mention, they are great trees for bees! Here’s a great source of information about willows for bees.

Arbor Day Foundation

Are you looking to do some landscaping? Check out this amazing resource!

The Arbor Day Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that is dedicated to helping people conserve trees. Their mission statement: Founded in 1972, the centennial of the first Arbor Day observance in the 19th century, the Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with over one million members, supporters, and valued partners.

I have a running list of trees that are great for pollinators, all of which I would like to eventually add to Blossomwood Farmstead. The Arbor Day Foundation had quite a few of them available for purchase — for such reasonable prices! Plus, with a $5 membership I was able to get their membership prices (a few dollars off each tree.) They also added a free Red Maple and two free forsynthias.

This is the list of trees I ordered: Northern Catalpa (2), Sourwood, Washington Hawthorne, Tulip Poplar, Little Leaf Linden, Witchhazel, Black Tupelo, Sugar Maple, and Western Redbud. My total? $76.61. I’m a fan!

I also wanted to point out this program they have to get 10 free trees! (With membership purchase of $10.)

Blossomwood Farmstead

I’ve been quite busy with property management lately, the reason being…? My family bought a farm!

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It’s a beautiful 42 acre property in Yachats, Or. (That is between Florence and Newport on the coast.) It includes a small 1916 farmhouse, which was one of the original homesteads in the area. In addition, it has a 2004 guest house, barn, cabin, and wood shed. There are 1,400 feet of river frontage, a pond, a bog, 12 acres of pasture, and 30 acres of forest. The land backs onto the Siuslaw National Forest.

It’s about 7 miles in from the ocean and south-facing, so is perfect for gardening. It’s been keeping me busy with quite a number of projects! (More details to come.)

  1. Refinishing the upstairs floors.
  2. Fixing quite a bit of deferred maintenance.
  3. Figuring out all the systems.
  4. Getting to know the land.
  5. Furnishing both houses.
  6. Planting things!

My short-term goal is to set up both houses as Airbnb rentals. (Keep an eye out for when it is ready if you would like to visit!) Long term goals include creating a bee sanctuary and a permaculture garden.

I’ve learned so much already just in the first three months of being a steward to this land. I absolutely love it and feel very grateful! I can’t wait to get to know it better as the seasons progress.

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