September color

Autumn yellow


I always thought of goldenrod as a dyer's plant and was surprised to learn that it has medicinal properties.


Baby squashes

The long warm season and the recent rains encouraged the squashes to bear fruit again, so here they are, at the start of September. Beautiful!

Its Latin name, Solidago, literally means "to make whole", and puts goldenrod squarely in the wound healing category. It has other medicinal properties, too, mostly related to improving the kidney and circulatory functions.

Apparently it is edible, but I wouldn't know about that and will refrain from testing this hypothesis on my long suffering stomach.

It is a good thing that the plant has so many uses, because it is relentless and once you have it in your garden it will spread with a vengeance. Its roots are grasping and stubborn, and it will continue to return after you pluck it, over and over, rising like the Phoenix from its own ashes.

I finally abandoned the fight and left it to its own devices in a couple of places where it provides a wonderful pop of color for the autumn months, just when the garden needs a little pick me up.

The seed heads are not very attractive; it sometimes gets confused with ragweed because of its appearance, but goldenrod does not cause hay fever. Some people can develop skin reactions from touching the plant, so you're better off deadheading it promptly, trust me, the last thing you need is more goldenrod brush!


Bee trivia

Morning Glory

There must be a hive somewhere in the neighborhood, because bees visit my garden very often, to gather nectar from their favorite flowers. Sedums produce an abundance of it, and their small flowers make an insect's work a little easier.

Did you know that a worker bee lives just forty days over the summer and during all this time of collecting nectar it only manages to gather a twelfth of a teaspoon's worth of honey? I feel guilty now, just thinking of all the times honey dripped off the bread.

Worker bees are exclusively female and sterile, and they are responsible for all the work in the hive, from cleaning to building repairs, caring for the young and of course, gathering nectar and pollen. There is no biological difference between a worker bee and a queen bee. When the hive needs a new queen it starts feeding one of the female larvae only royal jelly. This bee ambrosia makes it grow one and a half times bigger, extends her lifespan to sixty times that of a regular bee and kick starts her fertility cycle.

When bees are cared for by bee keepers, the queen is purposefully bred and introduced to the hive, which often, but not always, accepts her without a challenge.

Since queen bees need to be replaced regularly, the beekeeping industry uses a color code, to keep track of the year the queen had been introduced to the hive. It is common practice for queen bees to be marked with a small dot of that year's color on their throat or thorax, usually by the breeder.

The queen bee's productive lifespan is two to three years. This seems dire if you don't compare it with the average life of a worker bee.

Don't avoid these beneficial insects. They rarely sting unless threatened and will allow you to get very close if you don't bother them, which explains how I took this picture.

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