Bees, butterflies, and wildflowers in the city

I’ve gotten increasingly into container gardening since moving to Queens three years ago, slowly educating myself about welcoming bees, butterflies, and birds, and tending soil. Some of the containers are large elevated beds.

A couple months ago, I started planting for pollinators in an old sidewalk tree plot in front of the house. I wrote about it for the Queens Chronicle, my community newspaper.

It’s a bit of a tangle now, in late summer, but my winged friends approve. I’m reminding myself that “going to seed” isn’t always a bad thing. This morning I saw two monarch butterflies and some bumblebees flitting around the Joe Pye Weed—in the backyard, where it’s not as sun-ravaged. For ten minutes or so, the butterflies dove and flew, and drank from the flowers. They left only when a cell phone was pointed at them for a picture. Some beauty is best experienced in the moment, in motion, anyhow.

On the suggestion of the novelist Maureen Gibbon, I’m reading Eleanor Perenyi’s Green Thoughts, which can be enjoyed in pretty much any order. I often think of Alexander Chee’s insights on the compatibility of writing and plant-tending.