nature of things ~ butterfly garden edition

This has been a different gardening year. Without rain, only the hardiest plants grow in our sandy soil. Mostly weeds. Tall Verbena is the only plant that reseeded itself in the butterfly garden, regardless of rain. I saved a lot of different seeds in 2022 and purchased several packets that never sprouted. Even with hand watering. 

The good news is, 95% of the purchased perennials plants returned! The ones I grew from seed and transplanted did not return. Except for some Milkweeds. I have yet to see a native milkweed take in the garden bed. Odd. They grow willy nilly all over our land. I've tried planting saved seeds (chilled and not) and transplanting with roots intact. They can be enjoyed growing elsewhere.


Looking back at where the butterfly garden was when we started...

"My mind wanders with endless possibilities...a path to ride through? a place for my old horse bench, after refinishing? a solar water feature? a stone walking path? a butterfly house or three, made out of wood and/or my really really (really) dried gourds? rock features? or just a big beautiful patch of wild flowers, flutterby's and future foto fun?!!”

It is easy to see where those dreams are (not) today. The only thing from that list that exists is the dirt-n-weeds walking path. I am back to not riding, unless you count a four wheeler. I think it's safe to say I am more of a dreamer than a do-er *^* 

My Butterfly Garden was planted last May, 2022. There was SO much hope the first year, for colorful blooms & flutterbys. I enjoyed seeing my hopes come to fruition. Every single time a butterfly floated to and fro, or landed on the blooms. Spreading it's beautiful delicate wings.


Our parched land finally got much needed rain late July. It was amazing what the rain water did for the butterfly garden! Much to my surprise struggling plants started flourishing. Blooming ~ and ~ my saved annual flower seeds sprouted!! Zinnias & Marigolds popped up everywhere, and even a few (originally from Val) Four O'Clocks! YAY! It is late in the growing season. Many are now in bud and should bloom IF we continue to get some rain.

I tried seeding Cosmos and Cleome this year. Annuals I easily grew at our previous home. The Cosmo's I grew indoors from seed are trying to bloom. Nada from the sown seeds.

I might cave and plant Monarda. Perhaps it will behave here, and not mold. I yanked it at our last home. No Yarrow for me. Never (ever, ever) planting that again. Extremely invasive. Nothing kills it. We tried everything. Pretty sure it is still growing where it didn't belong, in the yard. Too bad, both can be pretty.

Perennial seeds from last/this year stayed dormant. Echinacea, Black Eyed Susan, Milkweed, Delphinium, Penstemon and more. It appears planting plants are a much better bet here. I am waiting for the native plant sale to add a few more. Hehee.

Tall Verbena (self reseeded) 7/16/23

Hoary Vervian (returning plant)

Cleopatra, Coneflower 7/25/23
(returning plant)

White Swan, Coneflower 7/16/23
(returning plant)

Cheyenne Spirit, Coneflower 7/16/23
(returning plant)

Tall Verbena with snapdragons, alyssum and marigolds.

Yellow Coneflower 7/19/23
(returning plant)

Pale Coneflower  7/19/23
(returning plant)

NONE of my Black Eyed Susans returned. I know they are short lived perennials, but... Last year I had a nice patch of blooming plants, started indoors from seed. This year I reseeded, and eventually bought another sale plant (and split into two). Both are on the struggle bus. Black Eyed Susans will likely be included as plants I cannot grow.

I am a firm believer of grow what grows for you.

More Purple Coneflowers (grown from seed) were transplanted and seeded this year. There is one plant left. Sigh. Last years similar efforts vanished. 

Black picky Eyed picky picky Susan
(New plant)

My orange Butterfly Weed plant also came back and bloomed. I started orange & yellow versions indoors from seed last year. They are currently re-blooming!

I started this post early July. The garden still doesn't look like much, but it is trying. Surviving parched among the weeds is not easy. Even for plants dubbed as drought tolerant.


yes, I am back to weeding

Patience. Not one of my better virtuous. As you know, it takes a good three years for perennials to establish. Longer for wild flowers. I am really looking forward to plants filling in, like the Verbena. It has become a large vibrant purple thick patch. A butterfly magnet.

My whole self smiles when I watch butterflies fluttering about.



Far Side of Fifty said...

Yeah for butterflies! I am not seeing many...one or two... the corporate farmer sprays...not many bees either. You got some great photos of your butterflies!

Shirley said...

Love verbena, didn't know it self seeded.
Love your original dreams for your garden! The bench, the water feature, the stone path.... Yes!
Lovely butterfly photos. We have several different ones here- and dragonflies but I never seem to have a camera handy when I see them.

Linda said...

Grow what grows for you. Good wisdom in gardens and life. So very true. We struggled with a lot of trees and plants, then leaned into the species that seemed to thrive. It definitely helped. It looks like the butterflies appreciate your thoughtful choices.

aurora said...

We hardly had any butterflies either. One of many things I noticed was different in nature, during our dry spell. I worry about the field spraying for them, and us.

Shirley, Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena, much easier!) did not reseed for me at our last home. Not sure what the difference was. I bought a couple very root bound dying six packs for next to nothing last summer. The woman at the garden center assured me they were perfect for my bfly project and would turn around and also reseed. She was right. Verbena is the highlight of my butterfly garden!

I think some of my dream list will happen eventually. Watering & weeding is keeping me busy this year.

Not sure how much of a difference my garden is making for the butterflies in this area. They have many wild growing host & nectar options. Regardless it brings joy, even with the weeds.