Butterfly Gardening: Delight the Eyes With Sculptures

13 Feb

Butterfly Gardening: Delight the Eyes With Sculptures

Once we’ve laid out a landscape — installed the pavers and mulch and pruning, placed the crops — we can sit back in deck seating and admire the grandeur of a gorgeous vista. But there’s another element just below the surface — a fourth measurement that thrills our senses and brings us fully into the area. Butterflies add a presence of colour and motion that echos the flowers, grasses and stone walls in our houses, delighting and surprising. Gardening for butterflies is possibly the easiest thing that you can do on your landscape — probably you already have the fundamental components to help them thrive.

Milieu Design

Start With What You Plant

Obviously, the very first thing you can do to attract butterflies would be to plant flowering plants, from perennials to shrubs and even trees. You can plant them in drifts and masses, or go for a cottage style that is more arbitrary. Formal or informal — that the butterflies won’t care.

What our winged friends do care about is what type of flowers you have. The greater diversity that you have, the better. And in general the less complicated the flower, the better. For example, new cultivars of coneflower that have double layers of frothy petals confuse butterflies and other pollinating insects, so they will ignore the bloom. The “simpler” blossoms — like purple or yellow coneflower, black-eyed Susan, Joy Pye Weed, mountain mint, blazing star and aster — are ideal, especially if they are not named cultivars; straight-species blossoms frequently have the flavor butterflies favor and have evolved, unlike many cultivars, which have been bred in favor of a certain growth dependency or petal colour.

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

Particular butterflies are especially attracted to particular blossoms — monarchs go especially nuts for blazing star, or Liatris ligulistylis.

Finding out which blossoms will do the job especially well for you needs a little bit of trial and error based on your location. A fantastic place to begin, however, is local university extension offices or arboretums, in addition to native-plant nurseries that specialize in attracting and providing for wildlife. You will certainly be doing yourself a favor if you find plants indigenous to your region.

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

If you want as many butterflies as you can get, then you should use host plants — plants that butterflies raise their young on: milkweed for monarchs, fennel or skillet for black swallowtails, plantain for buckeyes, baptisia for sulphurs. Many tree species are particularly significant, like oak, black cherry and willow.

Gardens With Wings lists plants and the butterflies that lay eggs.

Pearson Landscape Services

Add Water

I bet you do not consider water as necessary for butterflies, but it’s. You won’t find them sipping out of a pond or pool like birds, however, since they slurp droplets. This is why a fountain or other water quality that splashes a little is important, since the action creates nearby butterfly-size mud puddles and drops to drink from. You can add such a feature in just about any landscape layout, from formal to informal.

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

A vanishing fountain with a stone base might work best for quenching a butterfly’s thirst. You are able to place it among the plants so a few water finds its way onto leaves. Use plants that have cupped leaves to hold rainwater, like sedum and prairie dock. Even consider creating a damp mud puddle in a shallow birdbath, which is particularly attractive to butterflies. (Think about it — butterflies utilize their long proboscis to pull out nectar from blossoms, so they like to do exactly the same with water out of globs of mud.)

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

Produce a Habitat

Whoa, what’s this, a winter picture? Yup. Could you count the number of butterflies here? There might be heaps. Many butterflies overwinter as adults (mourning cloak), caterpillars (viceroy) or in a chrysalis (swallowtail).

This is one major reason not to cut or clean up your garden in fall — butterflies are snuggled in among all that dead plant life, waiting to emerge. Plus, leaving the garden up creates an added architectural component for you over a very long winter. Wait until spring to clean up, and walk gently over fallen leaves and twigs when you do return out.

A lovely lawn in a clean, contemporary landscape, filled with a great deal of architectural negative space, is frequently appropriate to a house’s layout. But it’s also a desert for butterflies. In addition, it might be that the lawn is preserved with pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers, which are easily harmful to butterflies at every point in their life span.

If you would like butterflies, you just can’t spray anything on your garden or landscape (and neither can your neighbors). If you must spray something as you have exhausted every other avenue of therapy and thoroughly researched alternative strategies, try to spray when insects are least active, like late night.

See nontoxic methods to tackle weeds

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

Love the Experience

there’s nothing more pleasing than just taking pride in and appreciating a designed landscape that complements your home and way of life. For many that experience can be raised even more by creating a fourth dimension in the backyard, that of insects like butterflies.

Ranging in size and colour from spring into fall, wholesome butterflies echo the landscape layout and bring us home in ways people would not have envisioned before. Perhaps gardening for butterflies draws out the simple miracle of childhood in all people, recalling a sense of peace and health many people are missing in our frantic lives.

Why Native Plants Produce Gardening So Much Better
More ways to garden for wildlife

Your turn How can you make room for butterflies in your garden?

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