Just a quick little post, to mention the idea of working with plants to achieve a design idea. An email arrived last week from a client when I was out of town, telling me that bees had started swarming all over the Teucrium we’d planted near the new spa on her property. She’d had the gardener remove the plants and heel them in elsewhere until we could come up with a better location for them.
When I returned home, I drove over to see the offending plants. Sure enough, they were in full bloom, and bees covered the blossoms.
Here’s the thing: bees like and need flowers. They’re indifferent to people, unless people harm or seriously threaten them. They don’t really want to sting you, and if a bee is on a flower, it is not going to leave the flower to harm you.
That’s impossible to convey to a worried client, so the Teucrium on this property will stay away from the spa. One suggestion I wish I’d been around to make before the gardener moved the plants, though: flowers are not generally the point of Teucrium in a landscape, generally, and certainly aren’t in this landscape. It would have been an easy thing simply to snip all the flowers off (sorry, bees), so the plants could stay in place, remain unstressed, and continue to do their job as part of the overall design.* Sometimes the low tech solution is the best one.
*Teucrium chamaedrys (Wall Germander) is an attractive little broadleaf evergreen that grows between 1-2 feet tall; it makes a good edge or low hedge plant, especially in protected areas in Zones 5-9. The white or pink or purple flowers are small and pretty, but not the main feature of this plant; nipping them off would do no harm to the plant, and would more likely only make it bushier. (Some gardeners take this approach with Stachys lanata (Woolly Lambs’ Ears), which have great big fuzzy leaves and gawky-looking flower spikes — they cut the spikes off early in the game, letting the leaves hold the spotlight through the season.)