The state of Minnesota will be offering a generous pot of money to homeowners statewide to convert portions of their lawn into foraging habitat for bumble bees. As ground-dwelling critters, bumble bees are particularly susceptible to paving, lawns, and, yes, even mulch. Thus, in addition to providing foraging food for the little guys and gals, keeping portions of our urban and suburban spaces un-covered (this means you too, mulch) is equally as important to ensuring the long-term survival of bumble bees.
But bumble bee decline is due as much to land-use policies that favor excessive paved surfaces and lawns, and agricultural practices that employ the use of harmful chemicals as it is to what everyday folks choose to do with their yards. So while Minnesota’s efforts should be applauded, we need to not place the burden of responsibility solely on individual homeowners. These problems are of a magnitude that no group of individuals, however well-meaning, can solve on their own.
In any case, this is a laudable start to what we hope will be a national trend, with other states eventually following suit and also providing funding for similar programs while rethinking their urban land-use and agricultural policies.
The Irrigation-Free Landscape has been doing quite a bit of growing these past couple of weeks. The Salvias are immense and blooming profusely (and these were actually the one plant we were thinking about removing, as they were having trouble dealing with dry conditions last summer. . . time will tell this summer. . . we are hoping their root systems have grown enough to take on whatever the weather brings them), the sedges over doubled in size from last year, the smokebushes finally established and growing well. To see how much things have grown in the past three weeks, here is a photo from a bit over two weeks ago:
For more photos from the past weeks, come to our Facebook page, and please do “like” us while you are there. It helps us spread the word about the work on water conservation and design we are doing.
Indian grass under a blanket of snow in a PRAIRIEFORM landscape
People ask what we do in winter here when we can’t be outside installing landscapes. This year we are spending the season giving presentations on the irrigation-free landscape, what we have learned, and what are next steps are. As far as those next steps go, we are searching out new sites with new variables and wider audiences for new irrigation-free landscape installations. If you are interested in having us give a powerpoint presentation (very visual, minimal text, and we promise we don’t just read off of lists on the screen), contact us: [email protected] .
We’ve held off on prematurely declaring the irrigation-free landscape a success, but thus far it has exceeded even our expectations. This July was the second hottest on record for Minneapolis, with June being particularly sweltering too. In spite of this, of the 204 plants in the irrigation-free landscape, 90% of them have not been watered since June 6. And they are thriving. A recent visitor to the landscape commented the landscape looks so full you would have no idea it was only planted less than two months ago and that most of the plants haven’t had supplemental water since early June. For more photos of how the landscape has evolved and grown, click here. Seeing is believing, though, so come by for a visit: 2853 42nd Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN.
It’s MInnesota, it’s summer, and it’s hot and dry, yet again. Learn how to make proverbial landscape lemonade out of lemons, how to create a landscape that can beat the heat and not require a sprinkler, and come to the on-site workshop for the Irrigation-Free Landscape. Click on the photo above, then click on it again in its new window, to see the flyer. For more info, click here.