Our wildflower border runs the length of our plot along Mt. Auburn Street and creeps up Holyoke Place. It is the most photogenic part of the garden, for sure. tourists laden with chunky DSLR cameras stop every few feet and admire the abundance of multicolored, multileveled blooms. There is something enticing in the ‘wildness’ of the wildflowers, especially because they serve as such a stark contrast to the highly manicured and carefully planted flowers everywhere else on campus. I prefer the spontaneity and randomness of the wildflowers- for the same reason I like to listen to the radio or put my ipod on shuffle rather than listen to the same albums or playlists straight through. They are always changing, and always pleasantly surprising.
We bought a pound of Northeast Wildflower seed mix from American Meadows and planted the border in early June with help from some willing laborers and a Mantis rototiller. I watched anxiously as the early June heatwave dried up the soil, and hosed down the area more than was probably necessary. Then finally: germination! Still, I couldn’t tell what was a weed and what was going to be a flower. The border required some patience. I cringed every time someone stepped on the patch, got unjustifiably angry and wanted to shout at them from my bench like a cranky old man on a porch telling kids to get off his front lawn. But how could they know that the little green weedy-looking things held a world of potential?
Finally, a few weeks ago, we saw our first blooms. And quickly following the first blooms, a flood of color was unleashed. First white, then bright orange, butter yellow, deep blues, reds, and purples. Our sunflowers are growing taller by the day, and I check their centers every morning in hopes that I will see flowers ready to yawn open.
The pollinators love the flower border as much as the gardeners and the tourists. I love to watch the bumblebees roll their plump little bodies all over the pollen, then lift off drunkenly and wind their way to the next clump of open blooms. The flowers, in addition to their aesthetic loveliness, do play a very important role in the little ecosystem of the garden– getting pollinators around the plot to all the flowering vegetables is crucial. We don’t hand pollinate any of the vegetable blooms in the garden, and we still get great yields. I salute you, little striped yellow pilots of the skies.
It has been raining for three days straight here in Cambridge. I am told we are experiencing a “rare summer nor’easter.” Feeling gloomy, I pulled up a video clip to remind me of sunnier days.
Tyler shot this a few weeks ago. It’s a little blurry, but take a look and you will see a cloud of pollinators buzzing around our (small) mint patch – bumblebees, honey bees, big scary wasps, little comical wasps. Apparently, mint blossoms have the best nectar. Sitting here in damp jeans in the semi-dark, I can only imagine what it must be like to be a bee in the sun, tipsy on mint nectar, floating from blossom to blossom under a cloudless sky…oy gevalt.