Photo Friday: Wild Butterfly Garden

It’s been quite a while since I shared any photos from the area we call the Wild Butterfly Garden. My wife worked hard this spring to get it cleaned up and mulched, and we are now filling in a few bare spots with new plants, even as many of the existing plants are blooming. We have mostly perennials planted there, with a few biennials and annuals as well. It’s a mix of plants that attract butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and other pollinators.

Wild Butterfly Garden

Wild Butterfly Garden

We have quite a few purple coneflower plants (Echinacea purpurea) there. It’s a native plant that is attractive to many species of butterflies, so we have it in several of our other flower beds too. We don’t deadhead the flowers, since the birds (especially finches) love the seeds, so it tends to self-seed freely, and there’s always a new plant popping up here and there.

Purple coneflower

Purple coneflower

There was a big clump of lavender bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) growing here when we bought the place. We have since divided it and moved it around to various places, including two big clumps in the Wild Butterfly Garden. It’s a tough native plant, drought resistant and hardy, and the bees love it. We also have some red flowered bee balm (Monarda didyma) planted.

bumblebee on lavender bee balm

bumblebee on lavender bee balm

Another plant that is popular with the bees is catnip (Nepeta cataria), at least when it’s blooming. Of course our two cats like it too, and we do give them a sprig of it every now and then. Catnip will readily self-seed, but so far we have not had a problem with it. We also have catmint (Nepeta X faassenii ‘Walker’s Low’) planted, which the bees are fond of. The catmint blooms early in spring before many other plants are blooming, and is a bit more showy than the catnip. I cut it back after the first round of blooms and it usually blooms again later in summer.

catnip blooming

catnip blooming

The grey-headed coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) is also blooming now. It’s another drought tolerant plant, native to Missouri and quite adapted to the climate here at Happy Acres. The cheery yellow flowers have a grey cone shaped center that sort of resembles a tall hat or sombrero. Butterflies visit the flowers and birds will eat the seeds.

grey-head coneflower

grey-head coneflower

We have several herbs planted in this garden, since the blooms of many are attractive to pollinators and other beneficial insects. In addition to the chives in the below photo, we also have oregano, sage, rosemary, pineapple sage, lemon balm, bronze fennel, and several different kinds of basil planted. I also set out two parsley plants to give the swallowtail caterpillars something to feed on. And we have a trio of Millenium ornamental onions planted that are just about ready to come into bloom.

chives blooming

chives blooming

We have another plant blooming that is sometimes considered an herb, anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum). The leaves have a licorice/anise scent and can be used to make tea, but it’s the flowers that are a magnet to butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

agastache flower spike

agastache flower spike

Another plant the hummingbirds visit is Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’. This plant has tubular scarlet red blossoms, and foliage that looks like a gladiolus. It grows from a corm, and is reliably winter hardy in our zone 6 garden.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer'

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

Hummingbirds are attracted to plants with red flowers, and I always plant a few red petunias for them. That’s Easy Wave Red Velour in the below photo, planted in a big container.

Easy Wave Red Velour petunia

Easy Wave Red Velour petunia

I planted another one of these petunias in our cat planter. It’s only in a gallon size pot, but it’s still covered in blooms.

petunia in cat planter

petunia in cat planter

We have several different sedums planted in this garden. Most of them don’t begin flowering until later in the year, but Purple Emporer has foliage that is attractive even before the pink flowers come on.

'Purple Emporer' sedum

‘Purple Emporer’ sedum

We also have “Autumn Joy’ and “Indian Chief’ sedums planted, including two that grow around the bird bath. They are visited by bees and butterflies when they are blooming. Of course the bird bath is a popular hangout for the birds. The ‘Autumn Joy’ was here when we bought the place, and we have divided this easy to grow and propagate plant and planted it in several places much like we’ve done the purple coneflower.

sedums around bird bath

sedums around bird bath

I’ll close with one more plant that is a magnet for butterflies and bees alike, the orange butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), which is native to the eastern U.S. While I was capturing images I counted three different kinds of bees visiting the flowers. You can see a honeybee and another smaller striped bee I didn’t recognize in the below photo. They were so busy working on the flowers they didn’t mind me getting close with my camera.

butterfly weed

butterfly weed

We try and include a variety of plants in the Wild Butterfly Garden that provide blooms throughout the season. Other plants that we have that aren’t blooming yet include Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum), Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and Swamp Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus). I hope you have enjoyed this look at our Wild Butterfly Garden here in early July.

 

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9 Responses to Photo Friday: Wild Butterfly Garden

  1. Jaime Haney says:

    Your wild butterfly garden looks fabulous! Lynda did a great job weeding and mulching. I haven’t seen as many butterflies in my garden this year, I’m hoping it’s just early for them.
    Jaime Haney recently posted…East Coast Florida MemoriesMy Profile

  2. Will - Eight Gate Farm - NH says:

    What a beautiful and useful perennial garden. I like that you use a lot of native plants. If you haven’t checked them out before, visit Prairie Moon Nurseries website. I love perennials, and am devoting more and more garden space to them. It’s especially satisfying to tear out “contractor” type shrubs and replace them with wonderful pollinator-attractor plants. It’s even more of a treat when I’ve grown them from seed.

  3. Michelle says:

    What a wonderful garden! I love gardens that showcase natives and feed the birds, bugs, and butterflies. I have to admit that I don’t have much of a flower garden, I just can’t seem to get around to maintaining one, but I do allow and encourage anything that will benefit the critters to volunteer. That makes for a rather haphazard garden but I don’t mind, I much prefer casual gardens to formal ones. Do you ever find Monarch caterpillars on your Asclepias?
    Michelle recently posted…End of June Garden TourMy Profile

    • Dave says:

      No Monarch caterpillars there, but we do have common milkweed growing elsewhere and they seem to prefer that.

  4. Phuong says:

    Your flower garden is so beautiful. I love the sedums that you include in your plantings.
    Phuong recently posted…Update on Broccoli and Brussels SproutsMy Profile

  5. Sue Garrett says:

    Birds, bees and butterflies must love it there. Our group crocks is Lucifer hasn’t even got signs of any buds yet. Echinacea just doesn’t seem to like our garden and never manages to pull through winter I think they like and more free draining soil don’t they?
    Sue Garrett recently posted…They’re forever blowing bubblesMy Profile

  6. K says:

    What a beautiful garden. Looks like a nice place to sit and just enjoy the colors. I have several of the same plants, but I’m just starting to get my perennial beds established.
    K recently posted…I see youMy Profile

  7. Margaret says:

    That was a wonderful tour of your butterfly garden – I’m hoping to add a selection of plants that attract butterflies and other beneficials to the front garden (after the big clean up this year) and this has been quite the inspiration.
    Margaret recently posted…Garden Update – Area #2My Profile

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