Across this vast country, the sounds of clinking metal are a sure sign that the tomato cages are coming out of hiding. From garages and garden sheds to barns and potting benches, the stacks are being separated and set into place over fledgling vines. But, not at our cottage where the tomato cages remain on duty year 'round. You're probably thinking-who is she trying to kid? In Maine??? Yes, our tomato cages are out all year to protect our rare clusters of Pink Lady-Slipper orchids (Cypripedium-from two Greek words, cyperis and pedilion, meaning Aphrodite's slipper).
When we first moved to our cottage, we found one lone plant, which we covered with a cage. Since then, the Lady-Slippers have spread. They nuzzle into the deep duff we keep in their territory and regain the home ground once lost to a closely sheared lawn. Although the Lady-Slippers are supposed to bloom here in May, we always have them through the month of June.
I love to sit beside a Lady-Sipper and watch and listen. Our fuzzy bumblebees shoulder aside the fat pouches and push their way inside in search of food (which she won't find, but that is another story). The orchid shakes, and the bumblebee buzzes loudly as she tries to find her way out of the slippery walled flower. Finally, she pushes under a pollen laden anther, her furred body picks up a few life giving granules of pollen, and she transfers them to the stigma of the plant she is in or onto another. A bumblebee life insurance program. Sometimes I think that I am the president of the "Bumblebee Appreciation Society." Care to join?
Gardening in my nightgown (as usual).
Blessings of nature,