Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Butterfly Garden

by Linda

Last year, my daughter and her family moved in with us. They were having a house built and their current home sold very quickly so they needed temporary housing. Trophy husband and I were happily living the empty nest life with our little dog so the addition of 4 people and 2 dogs was a little shocking but we powered through it! (because, grands!)

Anyway, I had for a few years been thinking about planting a butterfly garden. I have been following several people on Instagram and facebook that raise butterflies as well as several Monarch organizations. Not to mention our own resident "Monarch farmer" Kim! Since the grands were now full time residents and summer was approaching, I thought that was the perfect time to start! Kim graciously answered my questions and then the gardening and the fun began!

Butterfly gardening has been so rewarding in so many unexpected ways. Attracting butterflies was easy, raising caterpillars can be challenging.  (monarch caterpillars are the hungriest and will eat milkweed like there's no tomorrow! be sure you have plenty!) Watching a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis is magic.

Our fennel and dill attracted swallowtail butterflies to lay eggs.  The caterpillars preferred eating the fennel, I almost ran out! Fennel and dill don't like the heat we get in the summer and fade pretty quickly. Parsley is an option. We had lots of swallowtail caterpillars, even a stow away chrysalis on a milkweed pot I brought in because it had monarch caterpillars on it. One day as I was checking on the caterpillars, there was a beautiful swallowtail butterfly drying it's wings on the side of the container!

Our milkweed attracted lots of queen butterflies. Finally in late summer, we got some monarchs.

Every morning, the girls and I would spend some time checking on the garden. looking for eggs or caterpillars. We had a nursery for our tiny eggs and caterpillars and it was our daily duty to clean up all the "doo-dee" left behind from the very hungry caterpillars!

The girls enjoyed raising caterpillars very much. So much so they have convinced their mom to plant a butterfly garden in the backyard of their new house!

This year, I will probably get eggs and caterpillars because I have fennel and milkweed in the garden. The girls and I can tend to it this summer when they are off school and at "grammy boot camp" everyday.

In the meantime, the garden is beautiful! Plants have started to come our of their winter slumber and are putting on a show! Another benefit to having a butterfly garden!

Even if you don't plant any host plants (the plants butterflies will lay their eggs on and the caterpillars will eat to the ground!) you can still plant some beautiful plants that are probably native to your area and won't require a lot of maintenance, and they will be beautiful, attract butterflies and even hummingbirds! Bonus! Think of the photographic opportunities!


Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed. ~Walt Whitman


Have a glorious Easter this weekend!



heyjudephotography said...

Linda, your garden is beautiful, and what a wonderful lesson you and your granddaughters have every day you take care of it!

Dotti said...

All these beautiful photos and talk of flowers and butterflies and bees makes me ever more impatient for spring to be in full bloom here. Right now we're in the 'April showers' part of the season, it's pouring out. But soon there will be flowers and butterflies and bees. I can't wait! Okay, I can wait for the bees even though I know they're necessary. Lovely post, Linda!

Beyond the Dog Dish said...

Such beautiful soft photographs. I wandered here following a string of blogs I admire and have decided to join in your fun. Luckily I happened to have a perfect photo to add for Jan-March and if the snow cooperates by leaving might get a spring bloom to photograph for April.

kelly said...

Linda these are just gorgeous photos! and how wonderful that you and your grands got to enjoy that miracle all summer. I can only imagine!

Anonymous said...

Such a great post and a beautiful butterfly garden! Sharing this with your 'grands' is something they will keep forever! They will have those great memories to share with their children! The most beautiful things that money can't buy, but many take for granted is something to be treasured! Thanks for sharing and I love the photos, especially the last one!

Kim Stevens said...

Beautiful garden and flowers Linda, and I was just so happy when you finally got some monarchs last year. The Easter Bunny was good to me this year and after visiting our girl on Saturday I came home to "let's hunt for all the eggs"...Most of them have hatched today and I'm needing to go back for more milkweed!

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