The bees have influenced our selection of trees and bushes these past two years. In this year’s order from Fedco we have chosen an American Linden and a Redbud. According to the catalog, the Linden’s “Sweetly fragrant yellow June flowers will attract all the bees in the neighborhood, are reputed to make the best honey, and also make a popular after-dinner tea and stomach remedy.” The Redbud is “A valuable early-season bee nectar plant.” Its “purplish-pink pea-like flowers are so abundant they fill the entire tree”—and they are edible. Catalpa’s are so fast growing we decided to plant another, and that too will have a cover of beautiful, sweetly scented flowers. We have also chosen another sugar maple, although the one we planted three or four years ago has grown very slowly (we planted two, but one died). This year we are trying two nut trees, a black walnut, and hazelnut. We will have competition for the nuts themselves, so we’ll have to keep a very close eye on them (though considering that we’ve been robbed of our peaches each year, we may need to come up with a better strategy if we want to harvest nuts ourselves). The spirea we’d planted was a mound of white flowers last spring, and so lovely we want a second one, as well as another butterfly bush (which really is a magnet for butterflies). We’re planting bayberry bushes, although, as with the holly, we will need a male and female plant to get the aromatic berries. Since the plants are sold unsexed we will buy at least three. Finally, we decided to get three more blueberry bushes, which will gives us a total of nine. Last year, with a little attention and netting, we harvested a good crop of blueberries, and I hope this year will be even better. With nine bushes I think we can get enough to enjoy them fresh and freeze plenty for the winter.
Putting together the Fedco order takes a lot of time, but it is fun: going through the catalog, reading the enticing descriptions, and imagining what the trees and shrubs will be like when they mature. We also love the drive up to Maine in April, walking around an often muddy field packed with so many different people who have come from near and far to pick up their plants, their bags of seed potatoes, pots of perennials and vegetables, and supplies. We conveniently forget how hard it really is to dig holes in our rock filled land, remembering only when we arrive home with our latest additions.