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Updated: May 22

We are in the beginning days of summer here in Bellingham, which means we are enjoying the start of lavender season! Lavender is quite versatile, and comes in many forms, so if you play your cards right, you could enjoy beautiful lavender all summer long. Here we will discuss a few of our favorite varieties, and some fun ways you can use it to enhance your health and home.


Lavender is a great addition to your garden or containers. It is evergreen, so you can enjoy its beauty even when it isn't blooming. Some varieties are more tender than others, but if you plant it in a sunny spot with well-drained soil, your lavender should be generally happy. Mulch with pea gravel, rock or sand instead of organic material to assure it has this ability to drain. Once established, lavender will thrive on neglect. Each March, cut your lavender back by 1/2 to 2/3 to keep woodiness at the base and encourage new growth.


Lavender is often used in sachets, perfume and soap, but can also be a lovely addition to your favorite meal! Try swapping it out for rosemary in an Italian dish, or use it as a flavoring in desserts like ice cream and pastries. Be sure to use either English Lavender or Intermedia Lavender for best taste.


Lavandula Angustifolia

(English Lavender)


This is the most hardy of the lavenders. Depending on the cultivar, it is approximately 8" to 2' tall and wide. Its single flower spikes can be 1-4" long and hang 4-12" above the foliage. They will bloom earlier in the summer, but you can shear them when they wilt, and many will re-bloom in late summer or fall. These are sweetly fragrant, making them great for ratchets and perfume.

English Lavender we love at Garden Spot Nursery:

-Hidcote-

-Munstead-

- Satchet-

Lavendula x Intermedia

(Intermedia Lavender)


This lavender is a hybrid of L. angustifolia and L. latifolia (Portuguese Lavender). It is cold hardy and grows larger than English, about 3-4' tall and wide. Intermedia blooms mid to late summer its branching flower stems with interrupted flower spikes, showing much more color per bloom.

Intermedia Lavender we love at Garden Spot Nursery:

-Grosso-

-Provence-

-Fred Boutin-

Lavendula Stoechas

(Spanish Lavender)


This lavender is the most drought tolerant, which means it will need some serious drainage. Don't let it get too moist. It features small flowers on short, fat 2" spikes and 2-4 "rabbit ears" atop its spikes. The stems are between 2 and 8 inches long, and like angustifolia, often re-blooms if sheared after first bloom.

Spanish Lavender we love at

Garden Spot Nursery:

-Otto Quast-

-Quasti-

-Wings of Night-


It's also worth mentioning that 2020 is the Year of Lavender here at Garden Spot Nursery. Keep your eye out for special deals, recipes and fun surprises all throughout June! We love this beautiful, fragrant garden staple, and we hope you will too.

It's Earth Day! This is one of our favorite holidays at Garden Spot Nursery, and this year will be no different. Well, maybe a LITTLE different...but just because we are isolating or distancing doesn't mean that we can't make a difference. Here are some ways to celebrate of Earth Day while staying safe at home.



1. Make a donation to an environmental fund. As any other day, there are lots of organizations which are accepting donations to support our planet. Some places to start include The Conservation Fund, Earthjustice, Earth Day Network and Pure Earth, but there are hundreds of groups looking for support, including one that matches your specific passion. If you have some spare change, this is a great way to help. Visit https://www.charities.org/news/earth-day-2020 for more inspiration.


2. Pick up litter in your neighborhood. Though the current state of the world has slowed the amount of litter that is found in our streets, there are bound to be a few pieces of trash still out there. Bring a plastic bag and a pair of gloves along on your afternoon walk, and help these stragglers make it into the bin, and out of the ocean. Just be sure to wear gloves and wash your hands afterward!


3. Call your local government. It's always worth it to stay informed. Click here to find contact information for Washington State's Environment and Energy Committee. Ask what is being done locally to combat climate change. Ask what you can do to help. Share what is important to you. This is a simple way to help protect the environment using nothing but your own voice.


4. Call a friend to talk about issues. Distance can be difficult, especially during these scary times. Call a friend that lives far away, or even someone nearby you haven't seen in a while to talk about Earth Day. Issues are perceived differently to everyone, especially in different areas of the world. Getting another perspective might be just the thing that helps you find what your passion is when it comes to environmental topics.


5. Watch an environmental documentary. We have access to more movies and TV shows than ever before, including many great documentaries and docu-series. Some great ideas are Cowspiracy (available on Netflix), An Inconvenient Truth (available on YouTube and Google Play), and Chasing Ice (available on Google Play), but there are tons of documentaries across the many available streaming services. Find one that you'll love!


6. Go meat-free. One of the best ways to combat climate change and environmental degradation is by limiting meat and dairy in your diet. People all over the world have been embracing "Meatless Mondays" and other methods in recent years, and Earth Day 2020 could be your opportunity to join the trend! Save yourself another trip to the store and see what you can throw together for dinner using dry goods and fresh produce, perhaps even from your own garden!


7. Talk to kids about the environment. If you don't have your own kids at home, give a call to grandkids, nieces and nephews and tell them what you know about our planet. They may have something fun to share with you as well! Remember that they are inheriting the earth from us, so getting them excited about Earth Day can be very important.


8. Gardening! It should come as no surprise that this is our favorite option. Get outside and enjoy the fresh air without leaving your yard. Be a friend to pollinators and plant a beautiful garden for them to enjoy. Our planet is big, but don't forget about the earth that is right outside your door. Garden Spot Nursery is open to limited crowds from 9AM-4:30PM every day, and offering services like curbside pickup and delivery when necessary. Give us a call at 360-676-5480 to learn how we can help beautify your Earth Day!

We hope this gives you some things to think about during your isolation. If you found this to be helpful or fun, let us know! If you have other ideas about how to celebrate Earth Day 2020, we'd love to hear it! Happy Earth Day from Garden Spot Nursery. Stay safe, everyone!

Updated: Mar 5

If you missed our class on raising Mason bees, you might be wondering what the big deal is. Aren't they just like any other bee? Aren't they a pest? Well, what if we told you these little bees are small but mighty, and hold a lot more potential, and less of a threat than you think. The cycle is beginning now, so get your garden ready for these friendly pollinators to hatch!

You may have heard about the phenomenon of honey bee loss, so you know it is quite detrimental to our planet. These pollinators have become absolutely essential to the balance of the ecosystem, but honey bees aren't even native to our area, they're European! Mason bees are our Western native pollinator, and they come with a long list of benefits. At Garden Spot Nursery, we provide free information about Mason bees for our customers, and 10% of sales on Mason bee products will go toward Common Threads, a Bellingham, WA based non-profit that promotes a seed-to-table approach to food production, nutrition and environmental stewards.


Why Raise Mason Bees


Right off the bat, Mason bees are objectively the best pollinator there is. They will effectively pollinate 1,600 flowers per day while a honeybee will only pollinate about 30. They are considered "non-stingers" since they are so focused on food and egg production, they won't bother you. In the unlikely event of being stung, they are nonlethal to those who may be highly allergic to most bee stings. Mason bees are easy to care for, since they nest in pre-made holes and naturally hibernate during the winter. That's right, no hive. These are solitary bees, so each female will focus solely on her offspring, and you won't have to worry about swarms. Housing materials are affordable and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, plus you won't need any protective gear since they are nonthreatening! Once winter rolls around, it will take you a maximum of 30 minutes to bring your bees inside to protect them during hibernation. A cinch! They really are a no brainer if you want to raise pollinators in the Northwest.


What You Will Need

Before you begin raising your bees, you will need to think about where they will live. Mason bees' houses should keep them dry, and you will want to be able to open it to harvest the cocoons. The deeper the hole, the more female eggs produced, so about 6 inches will be acceptable. We recommend one of two methods: a cardboard straw system with a white paper straw inside, or wooden segmented blocks, available at Garden Spot Nursery. There other options including bamboo tubes or drilled holes in a single block of wood, but these do not allow for cleaning or inspection, which can leave your bees susceptible to mites and other pests, so we advise you to try our methods. Both were developed by Bellingham native Brian Griffin, and are supported by Knox Cellars Mason Bees in Bremerton, WA.


Preparing Your Garden



Mason bees will prefer a variety of flowers and plants, so be sure not to limit your garden to one or two. Also, avoid using harsh chemicals on your lawn and garden, as they can be harmful to the bees. Provide your bees with a mud puddle near their house, and mist it daily to maintain proper moisture. Set up your bees' house off the ground, away from rodents and other pests, and face it east so that the morning sun will warm and wake your bees. Keep away from birdhouses, if you have any.


What Happens Next


When temperatures reach 50-55 degrees, the few male bees will emerge from their cocoons first, followed shortly by the females. After a brief mating period, the female takes the lead and begins cross-pollinating your flowers and fruits. She will use the mud puddle you provided to build up a support wall in her first nesting chamber, then begin packing nectar and pollen against it to lay her first egg. Female eggs will be laid deeper in the hole, protected from pests and predators by the less crucial male eggs. Once the chamber is full, she will close it off with more mud and start again. All the while, she will fly about your garden, pollinating your plants in the process. Mason bees will typically stay within 100 yards of their nest, which is why they are so reliable easy to keep track of.


Your Responsibility


Watch the houses as your bees repopulate, making sure you have enough nesting areas for each new egg. By mid-April, all of your bees should be hatched, and routinely flying around your garden. They will be easy to spot as they are all black. At this time you can open up your segmented blocks or remove the paper liners to be sure that all bees have hatched. By mid-July, your adult female bees have done their job and will retire. The eggs begin spinning their cocoon to hibernate so they will be ready for you next Spring! At this time, you should bring them inside a garage or shed to additionally protect them. Check on them once or twice throughout the fall and winter, just to be sure you will have a good group for next year, and that they haven't been affected by mites or fungi.



We hope you find raising Mason bees a fun new hobby, and great way to pollinate your garden while sustaining the environment by lightening the burden on the honey bee. We can't wait to hear about your experience with raising Mason bees, and are always available to answer any questions you may have! Garden Spot Nursery works with Knox Cellars Mason Bees to bring the joy of beekeeping to you, so check out the available resources on their website, www.knoxcellarsmasonbees.com, as well!


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Bellingham, WA 98225

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Gardening Makes Me Happy!

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Phone: 360-676-5480

Toll-Free: 877-676-0886

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