The White House Garden

Did y’all see that they’re putting in a garden at the White House?  According to the article, it’s the first one since the Roosevelts’.

My favorite part of the article is just how excited everyone who works at the White House that they interviewed is.  And a carpenter is going to keep bees for them!  (Did I tell you that the neighbors confirmed that they used to keep bees here?  I haven’t seen the hives, but I wonder if they had the hives in the cow pasture.  I don’t imagine that we’ll become big bee keepers, but I hope we have a lot of bees come and enjoy our flower garden.)

18 thoughts on “The White House Garden

  1. OK, this is seriously cool, but … they are involving students from a school that has had a garden of its own for years. I wish they had thought to involve kids from a public school without its own facilities like that.

  2. B., maybe you can help me out on something. My parents are building a new house to move from Bellevue to Green Hills (sellouts!), and my mother wants to plant flowers in the new garden specifically to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. She had me Google this the other day. I know that planting milkweed attracts monarch butterflies, but I wasn’t sure what else. Any ideas?

  3. Not only do I have good ideas, just wait until the gardening goddesses get here. I have this red thing in my yard that the hummingbirds love (though they love all red things) which I can’t remember the name of. It looks like a honeysuckle, but red. But they like hollyhocks, morning glories (especially red ones), and foxglove as well (though remember that foxglove is poison to many mammals). My feeling is that any flower that’s kind of shaped like a trumpet, especially if it’s red, is going to attract hummingbirds.

    As for butterflies, if you want good butterflies, I think, you need black-eyed susans and coneflowers of all sorts. They seem to be butterfly magnets.

    But I’m sure folks will have other suggestions.

  4. Oh, heavens, you don’t want to plant milkweed. What a mess! You will have white cottony stuff all over everything every year.

    Hummingbirds do like anything red, the more the merrier.

  5. Salvia is a pretty reliable hummingbird attractor. It also has the benefit of being widely adaptable, so you can find varieties for nearly any region/climate.
    Things my mom grows in Kansas to attract them include trumpet flower vine (Campsis), Kniphofia, and foxglove. These all are upright or climbing plants with flowers in red-orange-pink hues. Salvia is more bushlike, but its flowers are deep and vase-like along upright stalks.

  6. Damn it, Dianne, I can’t put my finger on just what exactly works so nicely in that last sentence of yours but I feel like I am reading a bit of a poem, like there’s some nugget of good hard truth in there on some metaphoric level.

  7. Oh, and I’m such a fan of the milkweed that I’d grow it everywhere if I could. Sadly, the variety native to the desert isn’t very showy at all, not like Ascelpias tuberosa, which is my all time favorite flower, ever.

  8. aww. you’re gonna make me cry and quit my day job so I can add to the reams of unplublished poetry in the world.

  9. plublished is what happens to poetry that you write through your tears. In case you were wondering.

  10. GoldnI, I have this thing someone gave me called “bee balm” – I have no idea what it’s real name is, but it attracts bees like crazy.

  11. I love this thread.
    Beth, Bee Balm is Monarda, a wildflower sometimes available in red in nurseries, but the roadside species in the Midwest is a pale purple. If you find it in the wild, wait until the petals fall and the big, round head begins to dry before collecting. You can cut the head right off, but put it directly into an envelope or paper bag. The seeds are little cracked-pepper looking things, but will grow easily as wildflowers are wont.

  12. Dianne, thank you. Mine is the wild variety, as it is pale purple. I don’t think I saved any seeds last year, but will collect some this year. The bumblebees loved it more than anything.

  13. OMG, just read the wiki page

    Bee balm is considered a good plant to grow with tomatoes, ostensibly improving both health and flavor. It also is a good companion plant in general, attracting pollinators and some predatory/parasitic insects that hunt garden pests.

    who knew?!

  14. Once you attract butterflies you want to keep them reproducing too. Plan to plant some fennel (the bronze kind works well in flower beds) and parsley for the caterpillars to munch on. If you put in a Buddleia (butterfly bush-comes in many colors) underplant it with parsley or work parsley and bronze fennel into the same flower bed. The Monarch caterpillars will strip the plants down to the ground and they love it.

    Asclepias tuberosa is a native butterfly attracting milkweed that’s not too obnoxious and again the butterfly caterpillars will strip it bare early in the season and then it re-grows and blooms.

    Salvia Guarnitica Black and Blue is a hummingbird favorite at our house.

    Good old Monarda didyma, (bee balm) comes in lots of colors. Look for mildew resistant strains when you can. I’ve got a red cultivar named Joseph Cline? I think. I looks punk-rock in flower vases. Also known as Oswego Tea from your grandma.

  15. I’ve got 2 of the Black Knight variety (which I imagine say “It’s only a flesh wound!” whenever I prune them…because I have a warped sense of humor like that) & 3 of the Nanho Purple variety. & I’m definitely gonna pick up some parsley & fennel tomorrow. Thanks for the tip!

    B, I think I probably have a similar type of soil down here in Da Boro. Because of the poor drainage, my persian lilac tends to get a mildew/fungus as the summer progresses. Hasn’t killed it yet, but it usually looks kinda sorry by the time fall rolls around. I did get an anti-fungal to spritz on the leaves, but I discovered that you need to be careful about how much you spritz. Too much & the leaves get cooked by the summer sun…

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