“Friends” in my garden, is all a matter of perspective and frame of mind. We have watched rabbits hop along the electric fence that surrounds the vegetable garden and then pop INTO my garden. It felt like a magic trick, now you see them on this side, now you don’t! On several morning strolls amongst the vegetables I surprised Peter (Petra?) Rabbit. I felt like Farmer McGregor running around with a rake in my hand, yelling not as the Loony Tune character Elmer J. Fudd, “You wascally wabbit!”, but instead I had more choice words. I probably did more damage than those cute little mowing machines – who are growing larger by the week! Interestingly, the rabbits seem to have been eating the Johnny Jump-Ups. On one morning I disturbed a rabbit in my onions. Only now that I have pulled my onions to dry did I discover a partially eaten onion at the base of the stalk.

I surround my gladioli with hardware cloth several inches down into the soil. For the first time in many years, voles have found a way into the bulbs, chewing through stems and leaving the upper growth to die. In the fall I will probably discover partially eaten bulbs. I strive to find some good in this destruction. It isn’t easy, but I suppose the voles aerate the soil and provide meals for a few hawks.

Japanese beetles are turning bean leaves to lace. Bean plants with Japanese beetle damage strive to thrive by putting out new growth to make up for the insect trimming. Does it mean that the plants work harder to produce flowers and then their seed? Maybe.

Each day brings a new surprise, delightful or otherwise. A bean that I have never grown, known as ‘Littleton’, an old New Hampshire heirloom that I thought was supposed to be a bush variety, is climbing its way up and over its neighbors. Twining stalks are delicate early on and so strong later in the season. This new (to me) variety is intended to be harvested after the pods are dry, so the fact they are twining over each other is just fine. In daylight my garden literally hums with many different flying insects. The bean flowers provide food for the insects and once the pods set, food for birds and us.

Sparrows, goldfinches and the occasional mourning dove dine on Japanese beetles, different seeds, and who knows what else. Larval ladybugs, that look like miniature, prickly black alligators, troll for aphids.

It’s always lovely to share my garden with friends. Lately I have come across yellow orb spider webs. Dewdrops sparkle like miniature Christmas lights in the morning sunshine. When I see wrapped gifts hanging on those filaments, I silently thank th e spider and think, “You go, girl!”

I haven’t the heart to remove plants that are flowering, I’d make a terrible market gardener. Those busy insects gathering pollen and nectar are just trying to survive and I’m doing my bit to help them. Plants don’t open all their flowers at one time. By doing this they keep pollinators coming back for more food. Seedpods develop while there are still flowers further along the stalk, thus ensuring if some seeds are eaten, more are developing. It’s ingenious.

Cilantro came up in multiple areas, happy to bolt in the heat and produce lots of lovely tiny white flowers.  The flowers attract bees of all shapes and sizes, flies, and even some flies disguised as bees. I know that honeybees have areas where the males, known as drones, will congregate to mate with newly hatched queens. Lately I have wondered if flies do the same thing. I have an area in my garden that is always humming with flies and there is nothing I can see that would attract them other than the nearby flowers, which they don’t seem to be visiting. In the late afternoon I see swallows diving in that area, presumably dining on those flies.

Creating the vegetable garden has provided a variety of pollen and nectar sources that might not be found in nature, in essence an oasis. I hope it is supporting native populations of insects, rodents and birds. There are many friends in my garden.

Japanese beetles dining on bean leaves.

Lady Bug Pupae it was aware when I moved the leaf

Lady Bug Larvae – sure looks like an alligator to me!

Grasshoppers are beautiful and have voracious appetites

Check out the yellow pollen sacks this native bee is carrying from flower to flower!

Looking strong and delicate, a spider web supports the weight of dew in the morning.

A leek flower with visitors

XX_Honey bees and cucumber beetles share a squash flower