That's how we felt when we recently visited the one-acre pollinator bee garden of Kate Frey and her artist husband, Ben, in Hopland, Mendocino County. It's magical.
Kate, a world-class garden designer, and bee expert Gretchen LeBuhn, professor in the San Francisco State University, have just co-authored The Bee-Friendly Garden, an educational, enthusiastic and inspiring book that will help you turn your own garden--large or small, rural or urban--into something magical.
Among her many honors, Kate Frey twice won gold medals at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in London and received a Silver Gilt award in 2003. She met Queen Elizabeth, who admired her work. Currently Kate directed and taught at Sonoma State University's Sustainable Landscape Program with Extended Education, and consults for various wineries and residences around California, including The Melissa Garden in Healdsburg (privately owned and now closed) and Lynmar Estate Winery in Sebastopol. Her website, http://freygardens.com, offers more information about her and her mission. It's all about the pollinators and how to attract them!
The Frey/LeBuhn team says it well in the preface: “Bee gardens make people happy. Whether you enjoy a brilliant chorus of saturated color, a tranquil sanctuary from the busy world, or a hardworking edible garden, there is a glorious, flower-filled bee garden waiting for you.”
- The Benefits of a Bee Friendly Garden
- Our Friends, the Bees
- Plants for Your Bee Friendly Garden
- Bee Friendly Plants for Edible Gardens
- Bee Garden Basics
- Designing Your Bee Garden
- Beyond Your Own Backyard: Becoming a Bee Activist
Their book also contains resources, and regional plant lists for the Southeast, South Central, Southwest, and Pacific Northwest regions, Rocky Mountain/Intermountain West Region and the Northeast/Midwest/Mid-Atlantic Region.
The Frey/LeBuhn team recommends that you “keep a notebook throughout the year and write down the names of plants and which bees are visiting them. This is a fun and informative exercise wherever you go—from your home, to visiting friends, to walks around the neighborhood or anywhere you go in the world,” they write. “Much information can be gleaned this way, much discovered and much shared. Everyone can be a local expert.”
We love the photos of pollinators and gardens in the book—many taken in the Frey garden and in the Melissa Garden. They also focus on small-scale gardening—you don't need a huge space for a bee garden. (The urban Garvey garden is an example!)
Laurie Davies-Adams, executive director of the Pollinator Partnership, says that “this book will make bees happy and healthy in gardens across the country.”
Yes, and people, too!
(Note: The Frey garden will be open June 18 for the Garden Conservancy Open Days Program. See https://www.gardenconservancy.org/open-days/garden-directory/frey-gardens. Here is the entire schedule: https://www.gardenconservancy.org/events/all-events/mendocino-county-ca-open-day-3)
Author - Communications specialist
A bumble bee and a honey bee sharing teasel in the Kate and Ben Frey Garden, Hopland, Mendocino County. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The lovely garden at the home of Kate and Ben Frey in Hopland.
Rounding a corner in the Kate and Ben Frey garden at their home in Hopland, Calif. Ben installed the drip irrigation system in the one-acre garden.(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Kate Frey serves as a consultant for the pollinator gardens (shown) at the Lynmar Estate Winery, Sebastopol.
Another view of the pollinator gardens at Lynmar Estate Winery, Sebastopol. Kate Frey serves as the consultant.