Back in April, after several months of allowing our garden to grow out with native Florida plants and wildflowers for pollinators and other wildlife, we got a notice from our city code enforcement telling us that we either had to mow it all down or face fines. This happened right as Allyson was going out of town, and we made the choice to cut it all down so that I wouldn’t have to fight the situation alone. It was terrible. I felt angry, withdrawn, and profoundly sad because watching the bees weaving in and out of the Spanish needle was one of the most earnest joys in my life. When I would get home from work, I would just sit and watch them for ten or fifteen minutes. I looked forward to seeing the bees every day. It was an island of meditative calm in a life I often find stressful and tumultuous. I loathed my neighbors for causing this to happen. I often cried in my car when I got home and saw the empty grass.

We have made a plan. Soon we’ll be putting up planter boxes, making it clear that, yes, this is intentional. I’m planning to have professional signs planted indicating that this clearly defined area is being intentionally preserved for native Florida plants and wildlife. We’ve made clearly defined areas of our garden that have been left intentionally wild in order to better align with city ordinances. It has yet again been a process of months, waiting for plants to grow back in and start flowering and for the bees to rediscover our pollen and nectar sources.

Honeybee on Spanish Needle flower

They’re back! There are so many bees in our garden again—honeybees, bumblebees, small lanky bees, large white and black bees…They are everywhere, and it feels like life has come back to the garden again.

Bumblebee on Spanish Needle flower

It fills me with so much joy to see them buzzing everywhere, frantically moving from flower to flower as if they simply can’t decide which one is best.