THIS has been MY summer dream! To have a garden where the butterflies could flutter, land, sip, and flit about while I got to enjoy them and the beautiful flowers which attract them. Many of the shots here are what I saw all summer, as I looked out my kitchen window, as I walked along outside, and this garden has brought us much joy!
I just love butterflies, and I love all kinds of flowers too! I love having fennel growing where the boys bring in literally dozens of Black Swallowtail chrysalises to observe over the months! I love the miracle of every new butterfly coming “out”! It simply fills us with wonder EVERY TIME!
My dream was to grow an abundance of flowers where we could see how many butterflies would come! We attended a seminar last winter about raising butterflies, and I thought that that sounded like so much fun! The presenter gave away free milkweed seeds (my husband asked me why in the world would they need to do that, since the plant grows everywhere as a weed…), and I took some!
The boys and I planted the seeds in a pot and they germinated just fine. I really wanted milkweed to attract the Monarch butterfly, and so we could see it at all of its stages. It just wasn’t meant to be for this year, I guess. Little Acorn and I carefully transplanted the (weed) seeds to an area which he had worked hard to prepare. We had dozens of little plants! We planted a few in an old sandbox as well, along with some cute, short little sunflowers. I never dreamed that we would have any trouble at all growing weeds! But, that night a huge flooding storm came and completely washed away our milkweed from the bank, and I’m afraid the dog thought that the old sandbox would make a good bed, and she squashed the rest! 😦
Not to worry! My husband showed me where several, nicely-growing milkweed plants were located, so we transplanted some of those to a couple of different spots. I don’t know what happened, but they croaked. This was about the same experience I had when trying to grow Black-Eyed Susan flowers this year. I transplanted, seeded, and fiddled with several plants, unsuccessfully! I was about ready to go out and BUY myself a plant (another weed), but my seeds finally did come through for me. Not so with the milkweeds. They never did make it. Maybe next year. I am determined to see a Monarch butterfly chrysalis!
Despite our several unsuccessful attempts, we did have some success as well. One word for butterflies–ZINNIAS! They grow easily, they come in every color you could want, even green, which we did grow, and the butterflies just LOVE them! I took the boys to the seed store in the Spring, and they each picked out several different packages of Zinnias. I picked out some, too, and when we planted them, they really took off! Those flowers sure brightened up the front side of our house this summer. I am going to be sad to see them go. We will definitely grow those again–every year. We have marked off the “best” ones with tape and plan to collect and save the seeds to see what we get. Banana Man says not to count on much since they might not turn out like the parent plants. Oh, well. We will try, anyway.
I had some birthday money and was in the middle of this butterfly project, so I decided that nothing would be better than a book to teach me more! This really could be a book for children, but I think it’s perfect for all ages, and I ordered it for me! It’s called The Life Cycle of Butterflies by Judy Burris and Wayne Richards. This book is phenomenal! It shows the complete life cycle of 23 common garden butterflies in photos. It does not cover every species you might see, but I like that it shows eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises, and butterfly, plus tells you host plants, nectar plants, and just an abundance of information that a butterfly grower or watcher would want.
I don’t see the butterfly garden idea as a one-year project. We have enjoyed it so much that I believe that as long as we’re able, we will make a butterfly garden every year, and one of these times, we are going to witness that Monarch metamorphosis take place!
I hope you enjoy our butterfly garden!