Plant a flower, help a bee … or butterfly … or chocoholic (anytime)

May 7, 2009

We’ve been planting our flowerbeds the past few days after school. Things are going smoothly now, but there was a very rocky period when S. suddenly and irrationally developed a terror of bees. I mean scream-like-you’re-dying terror — the first time it happened my heart didn’t slow down for a quarter of an hour after the bloodcurdling yell from around the corner of the house. So we’re back to the same strategies we used with M. when he went through something similar (albeit MUCH less severe) a few years ago: Bees want flowers, not you. Bees help all our plants grow the foods we eat. Bees need our help because they’re having a hard time right now. That’s as close to colony collapse disorder as we got, but it’s a very hot topic that’s showing up everywhere, even in Haagen-Dazs ads (with details about planting a bee-friendly blue, purple, orange and yellow flowerbed), as part of its Help the Honeybees online campaign.
Other online resources for helping bees abound.  If you’re in Illinois, you can help the BeeSpotter at the University of Illinois by sending photos of the bees in your yard.  If you’d like to do more, check out The Bee Works and think about setting up your own hives (as quite a few St. Louisans, city and county and even downtown, have already done).

But if you empathize with S. in his aversion to bees, helping butterflies may be more your speed.  There are lots of online resources for those too. You can read a list of plants that the Webster Groves Nature Study Society has put into its two local butterfly gardens (and see where they are, in case you’re up for a field trip).  Midwest Living Magazine also has some good tips for starting  abutterfly garden in our area.

What S. would like best, perhaps, is a garden designed with him in mind.  Unfortunately, his favorite food, cupcakes, doesn’t grow on trees.  But chocolate comes in a close second — and though cacao won’t do so well in our climate, there are some chocolate-scented flowers (including Chocolate Daisies and Chocolate Cosmos) that he might like so much he’ll be willing to share with the bees and the butterflies.


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