You may recall that enthusiasm for attracting and aiding pollinators, an at-risk population, led me to dig up and plant most of my backyard with daisies, black-eyed susans, salvia and other bee-attracting plants. The result, in my opinion, was beautiful. I’m drawn to explosions of colour – barely-controlled country gardens. The bees obviously share my view of things, because after these plants went in, most summer days saw a haze of insects backlit by the sun’s rays in an impressive buggy cloud out back.

But.

That first summer I was stung, for the first time in my life. If you missed the post, you can read it here: Attracting Bees.

Anaphylactic shock, it turns out, is no picnic. I’d take a hard episode of arrhythmia over a bee sting any day. When, three summers in a row, I got stung (the last time while wearing my beekeeper suit, albeit with the head mask off), my husband mildly suggested I think about removing the pollinator plants that created this magnetic haven for bees.

I didn’t want to.

But time, it turns out, can lessen the sting (did you pick up on that… sting?!) of many things, including the loss of something beautiful you’ve worked hard to create. Phase one of the unmaking-of-the-bee-haven involved working through emotional aspects of letting my beautiful garden go. I brooded about it through the winter, and this past week I felt sadder than expected as I dug up all of my now-large perennials.

I would, however, like to be able to step outside wearing normal clothes during the months of May through October.

My cousin’s daughter works in landscaping, and she suggested a dry river bed, to give the (newly bulldozed) garden a focal point – something to build it out around. The friend who loaded us with squash last fall (you can read about that here: An Unexpected Kindness) gave me some tips of what NOT to include if I don’t want to attract bees, and also some suggestions about what could soften the look of so much hardscape in this formerly green space.

Here’s where I’m at.

Most pollinator plants are out. I’ve dug a channel for my dry river bed, and shifted some plants to the edges. Next comes the landscape fabric, perennial grass clumps for the edges and the river rock. I’ll keep you updated!

NOTE:  Those of you following this blog after reading my book, Strong Spirit, may wonder how it is that someone with a heart condition is digging trenches, moving plants and collecting rocks. Have you ever found yourself inhaling a dozen chocolate treats, even though you know it’ll cause weight gain or trigger your diabetes? (I visited someone in the hospital who lost both of his legs due to diabetes early last year… don’t tell me those treats are less potentially lethal than something that could trigger a cardiac event.)

I’m feeling defensive, because I know you’re right.

I. Just. Can’t. Resist.

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