Sacred Habitats

...discoveries of living mindfully on the Earth.

Span the seasons with trees, shrubs and grasses that offer color and texture in abundance

Wonderful article written by Karen Chapman on Great Garden Combo: A Fall Landscape Scene That Lasts. Karen beautifully covers the steps and details necessary for anyone to create beautiful garden vignettes. She also has a new book titled Fine Foliage with Christina Salwitz. The layout of the book is beautiful. Though the book offers a designer’s perspective on using foliage color, shape and texture to create beautiful planting combinations, the ideas are presented in a very user-friendly way.

On one side of a page spread, you have a bit of inspiration that is beautifully photographed.

On the other side you have everything you need to know about the planting combination clearly spelled out for you: sun or shade, season, soil, and zone.

Karen and Christina also tell you why the combination works and introduce you to each of the plants involved.

In an article Karen writes…

Fall is one of the most exciting seasons in the garden, when we can take advantage of the many fall foliage superstars to create a framework for late-blooming perennials. Rather than thinking in terms of selecting a favorite flower or two, create a colorful vignette of trees and shrubs that will span the seasons and give your garden a picture-perfect look in autumn.

When decorating a room, we typically start by choosing a wall color. With that in place, the fun begins to find the perfect flooring or accent rug before we finally consider the placement and style of furniture. The overall color palette is often kept restrained, with accessories providing the finishing touch and extra color punch.

Creating a garden vignette is a little like that. Begin by choosing the key vertical elements — the trees, selecting those that will look good over several seasons but that also have wonderful fall tints. For the ground plane, seek out shrubs and grasses that bring color, different leaf shapes and exciting textures to the scene. Finally add a swath of your favorite late-blooming perennials and accessorize with a fun container or two for a bright splash of color… (click image below to continue reading Karen’s article for some great ideas for your own garden).


Browse living room ideas, from a sectional sofa couch to chandelier lights and floorlamps, for your next interior design project.
Share photos of the kitchen cabinets and kitchen sinks you like with a top kitchen remodeler in your area.

Evelyn Vincent Evelyn Vincent

Native Plant Landscaper, Gardener, Labyrinth Design, Feng Shui Practitioner,  Aromatherapy / Essential Oils, Big Fan of Nature and Living Simply.

"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly."
~ R. Buckminster Fuller

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Happy 4th of July! Complete Guide to Fireworks (infographic)

Happy 4th of July, have a beautiful and safe day with family and friends!

Evelyn Vincent Evelyn Vincent

Native Plant Landscaper, Gardener, Labyrinth Design, Feng Shui Practitioner,  Aromatherapy / Essential Oils, Big Fan of Nature and Living Simply.

"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly."
~ R. Buckminster Fuller

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Bees: an Introduction to Native Bees in the Landscape

Most people do not realize that there were no honey bees in America before the European settlers brought hives from Europe. Native pollinators, especially bees other than honey bees, have been pollinating the continent’s flowering plants since long before the arrival of honey bees. Even in today’s vastly altered landscapes, they continue to do the yeomen’s share of pollination, especially when it comes to native plants.

Here are excerpts from one of the best resources I’ve found online regarding native bees from the USDA Forest Service and Pollinator Partnership (I highly recommend printing out or saving this beautifully illustrated and valuable PDF to your desktop)

Bee Basics an Introduction to Our Native Bees

What is helpful for new gardeners to know is that the honey bee, as remarkable as it is, does not know how to pollinate tomato or eggplant flowers. The honey bee also does very poorly compared to native bees when pollinating many native plants, such as pumpkins, cherries, blueberries, and cranberries. Native bees come in a wide array of sizes, shapes, and colors. They are also varied in their life styles, the places they frequent, the nests they build, the flowers they visit, and their season of activity. They remain ignored or unknown by most of us. Yet, they provide an invaluable ecosystem service, pollination, to 80 percent of flowering plants.

Bees are efficient foragers. One example is the southeastern blueberry bee, Habropoda laboriosa, a hard-working little creature capable of visiting as many as 50,000 blueberry flowers in her short life and pollinating enough of them to produce more than 6,000 ripe blueberries. At market those 6,000 blueberries are worth approximately $20 or more. Not every bee that you see flitting about may be worth $20, but all of them combined keep the world of flowering plants going. The world as we know it would not exist if there were no bees to pollinate the earth’s 250,000 flowering plants.

Bees are descended from wasps. Most wasps are carnivores; they either prey upon or parasitize other insects or spiders, and use this rich protein source to feed their young. About 125 million years ago, when the first flowering plants evolved, some wasps made a switch from hunting prey to gathering pollen for their brood. Perhaps they were hunting for insects that visited flowers and ate some of the pollen or drank the nectar along with their prey.

It didn’t take much to find the advantages of consuming pollen over hunting. Pollen is rich in proteins and doesn’t fight back, so it is easy to imagine why the bees became vegetarians. Gathering pollen and nectar requires certain adaptations different from those of hunters, so they started to change, to evolve to meet these requirements and consequently became bees.

Some bees are generalists and will use pollen from a wide variety of flowering plants. Bumble bees are generalists as they depend upon a succession of plants flowering from early spring when the queen emerges to late summer – early fall when the colony dies. Other bees have some degree of specialization in foraging; they resort to using pollen from only one or two families of flowering plants. Fortunately plant reproduction has redundancy in floral visitation already built-in. Each flowering plant species usually has a small guild of bees and other pollinators which coevolved with them to ensure their pollination. Typically, bees collect nectar from a wider range of blossoms than they visit for pollen.

One example of floral specialization is squash bees which are efficient visitors and pollinators of cucurbit plants (squash, pumpkin, and zucchini).

Blueberry bees, globe mallow bees, and cactus bees are also floral specialists.

Some bee species are active only for a few weeks during the growing season and depend on just a few families of flowering plants for their foraging needs. Bees in the genus Macropis depend only on loosestrife flowers (Lysimachia) from which they collect oil and pollen for their larvae’s food. Loosestrife flowers however, have no nectar available so bees in the genus Macropis must visit other flowers for their nectar needs. One highly specialized bee is Anthemurgus passiflorae. This bee is only known to forage on yellow passionflower (Passiflora lutea).

A note on Loosestrife: under no circumstances plant the Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), it is an invasive alien species to North America and its sale is illegal as it invades our wetlands, displacing native flora and fauna. More on Purple Loosestrife and its erradication. Insects keep purple loosestrife under control in its native Eurasia, but in America it has no animal to control it. Experiments are under way to see if non-native insects that seem to feed uniquely on purple loosestrife can control it without threatening native species. Purple loosestrife is the only plant that is banned from sale in Virginia. Additionally, responsible gardeners would never share Purple Loostrife with their gardening friends. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center you will find a list of the native loosestrife plants.

There are 4,000 species of native bees in the United States. A number of government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and private individuals are creating pollinator gardens throughout the country that will benefit native bees and other pollinators. The USDA Forest Service, the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign, the Pollinator Partnership, Urban Bee Gardens at U.C. Berkeley, and the Xerces Society each supply information to those who want to start gardening for pollinators or improving bee habitat in general.

8 Ways to Help Native Bees in Your Garden

  1. Plant a pollinator garden.
  2. Avoid pesticides or choose non-chemical solutions to insect problems.
  3. Provide a source of pesticide-free water and mud. A dripping faucet, mud puddle, or birdbath attracts butterflies and beneficial insects. Mud is an important nesting material for some bee species.
  4. Plant native plants from your eco region.
  5. Provide a variety of native flowering trees, shrubs, and wildflowers that bloom successively throughout the seasons.
  6. Reduce the size of the lawn by creating pollinator gardens will benefit native pollinators and other species of wildlife. It is possible to have a lawn that is good for native bees while being esthetically pleasing.
  7. Provide nesting habitats for bees.
  8. Build or buy your own bee houses.

Helping native bees is essential to our continued survival, health, and well-being. These animals benefit us all because of the invaluable ecosystem services they provide to the environment and to our farms, forests, and gardens. Not only do they pollinate most of our flowering plants, their bodies feed other wildlife and their ground-nesting behaviors aerate and enrich soils. They enrich and sustain our lives. The observation of native bees can become a lifelong pastime and pleasure. Become involved.

Observe bees with close focusing binoculars; plant a small pollinator garden; or help a neighbor, student, or family member drill small holes in scrap lumber to create a bee house. Join a pollinator and plant-friendly organization to learn more about pollinators and their flowers, like the Pollinator Partnership (

Become a pollinator observer as a citizen scientist and report your observations. Some of our bees are declining, and your findings are invaluable to understanding the big picture. Most importantly, get outdoors with your children and experience the amazing natural and urban habitats that we share with pollinators and flowering plants. Do your share to make sure that this precious legacy continues.

You might also like to read:

Bee Resources

Bee Houses

Additional Reading

Bee Families, Description & Classification:

Bee Conservation

Evelyn Vincent Evelyn Vincent

Native Plant Landscaper, Gardener, Labyrinth Design, Feng Shui Practitioner,  Aromatherapy / Essential Oils, Big Fan of Nature and Living Simply.

"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly."
~ R. Buckminster Fuller

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Native Flute: Voices of the Wind

“The flute and its music are indigenous to this land, it comes from being here.”

~ Ken Light

This gorgeous Rosewood Flute is handmade by Brent Haines of Woodsounds

September 2006, Seattle, WA. – the first Flute Festival I attended. The weather was picture perfect for the first 2-day long Flute Festival. I arrived early so as to not miss a second. The grounds slowly filled as the day progressed. I spent the afternoon in a workshop, a beginner’s flute class, with the very lively and animated Clint Goss. As the afternoon drew to an end and above our beginner’s tones, I could hear through the open windows the mystically serene songs drifting in from the stage outside – the more experienced players had arrived and began to play. My entire soul, every cell in my body, transformed into the lightness of an Owl’s feather drifting silently through the air with the vibration of the sound. This was surely heaven.

For me, there is something about the sounds of the ancient instruments, the hand drum and flute, that resonates with the core of our humanity. The spirit comes awakened. It’s more than beautiful music, it’s the voice of the wind. The long-lost messages and wisdom of our ancestors bringing me home. When I find myself in that place I long to remove myself from the insanity of this modern world. To be back among the wildness of nature, in the presence of that which is no longer tangible in today’s conditioned and regimented world. I wonder how and why we allowed ourselves to become so removed from something so civilized and enlightened of merely being present in this life.

I have since moved to the mountains of North Carolina and have awaited the opportunity to attend a Flute Festival again. In today’s email my wait is over. As I opened Brent Haines newsletter I became swept away with a little story he included, I would like to share that here…

“I have been inspired and touched by the people with whom I have spent the last week or so with here in Chinle and Nazlini. There are many differences between our cultures. The beauty of the culture I am currently in has captured my heart and filled me.

Brother in-law, Darrel, told me about the joining of the hands when two people meet. Each person says Ya-te-hey. He said the swirls in our fingers tips and the swirls in our palms. The swirls in our bellies and all the swirls of energy in our body. There are lots of swirls that make us up. These swirls are all just like the swirl of the Milky Way Galaxy in which we live. When we great someone we join our hand to their hand and say Ya-te-hey. The Ya means universe. So it is very literally the greeting our our universe and your universe meeting when we shake hands. This is done gently You do not need to show grandma how strong you are by crushing her hand in a firm grip. So the hand shake is ever so gentle. Yet it is the joining of two Universes. And how powerful is this?”

I sat there thinking about what I had read and thought how meaningful Brent’s story is, how it showed such honor and respect – far beyond the sensation or gesture of an ordinary handshake. This is how life should be.

I scrolled slowly down through the newsletter and came across yet again some of the most amazing looking and sounding flutes that he has available right now (see the image above). I know that the Rosewood this flute is made of is quite rare because some years back Rosewood essential oil was no longer available, my half full 15ml bottle of Rosewood essential oil stays neatly in my case and every so often I open the cap to inhale the divine aroma. The preciousness of life.

Brent has this to say about this flute…

“Honduran Rosewood Burl is my favorite wood. With the rich red, purple and black swirls, the beauty to the eye is unparalleled. The aroma is magnificent and will fill the air in the room you play your flute in with a sweet wonderful scent.

The sound is clean and pure yet round and full. Incredible projection. If you are looking for the best possible wood for look and sound, this is the wood.

Unfortunately, it is quite rare. I am always keeping an eye out for the wood, but only am able to find it every four years or so. If this wood is calling to you, give me a call right away as if I do have it now, I will likely not have it for much longer.”

I met Brent at the Flute Festival in Seattle and saw his amazing works of art. I also heard them being played by artist flutists, like Robert Mirabal – who will be the topic of my next post in a few days. Needless to say, Brent’s flutes are the cream of the crop in terms of beauty of appearance and sound. They are quite possibly unmatched.

Scrolling down further in the newsletter revealed a piece of news that took my breath away. On June 6-8, 2013 there will be a flute gathering, Renaissance of the North American Flute Foundation (RNAFF) at the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center in eastern Tennessee – which is practically right in my backyard!

R. Carlos Nakai, who I also saw in Seattle, will be there. As well as, John Sarantos, JJ Kent, Ken Light, Johnny Lipford, Randy Granger, Jan Michael Looking Wolf, and Rona Yellow Robe.

~~ Register Here for the RNAFF Flute Festival ~~

Evelyn Vincent Evelyn Vincent

Native Plant Landscaper, Gardener, Labyrinth Design, Feng Shui Practitioner,  Aromatherapy / Essential Oils, Big Fan of Nature and Living Simply.

"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly."
~ R. Buckminster Fuller

Follow Me on Pinterest

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