by Charlene Burgi
The other day, I opened the front door and noticed the Buddleia in full bloom. The deep purple flowers seemed to shimmer from the morning dew and early sunlight reflection. The vision held a promise of the delights that typically accompany the emerging blossoms: butterflies.
That afternoon, a graceful yellow and black swallowtail fluttered about the flower-laden, ten-foot bush. It wasn’t long before a few more butterflies danced about as they gathered sustenance from each blossom. Their presence brought such joy to the garden and made me wonder what else I could provide to attract more beneficials into the garden.
These thoughts reminded me of a small garden I recently visited belonging to a dear friend. The space of his planting area consisted of a raised 4-by-4-foot planter. This little plot of land reminded me of a French intense garden that is typically jammed with vegetables. Instead of veggies, he packed the space with all the wonderful elements that would draw in beneficial insects and hummingbirds. Dill, parsley and fennel grew in the background, which already hosted the caterpillars of butterflies yet to come. Various salvias, milkweed, yarrow, asters and fuchsias filled the remaining area or dangled from hanging baskets. While I didn’t notice, I am sure there was a shallow saucer filled with pea gravel and water where the butterflies could find a drink. He created a habitat fit for kings in an area half the size of the cubical where I work!
You might wonder what you can do to create such splendor in the garden. First, prepare the soil by adding well-composted material that will support and feed your plants. Next, determine the exposure of the planting area. Is it in the sun or shade? You’ll need to weigh this factor in selecting the plants you grow. Is it protected from the wind? Butterflies, like many insects, need calm air to move about. What type of butterflies do you want to attract? Some varieties of caterpillars prefer certain host foods, just as butterflies favor certain nectars. This website has some interesting information about butterflies: butterflywebsite.com/butterflygardening.cfm. Have fun creating a fairy garden. The good news is most of the suggested plants are water-conserving! Garden on!
A few weeks ago, we posted a blog regarding compost. At that time, I found a website that I wanted to share with you. The website went into great detail about the “who, what, why, when, where and how” of composting. The morning that Ann was going to release the blog to you, the website failed. For weeks daily checks were made hoping it would come back online. Surprisingly, I tried the website today and found a very detailed website on compost carrying a similar name. It shows how to make your own worm bin, how to achieve the proper ratio of greens to browns depending on the material you are adding, various types of composting bins available, and a whole lot more. Let’s hope this site will remain up for a while: www.compost-info-guide.com.
Once again, we are going from 60 to 90 degrees within days. Some salt-of-the-earth rancher friends from the high country always tell me, “If you don’t like the weather up here, wait five minutes.” I am beginning to think we don’t need to be in the high country for those pearls of wisdom! We experienced close to an inch of rain this week and while that offsets the rising evapotranspiration during this time of year, you may still need to irrigate. Keep an eye out for wilting plants and let the plants be your guide for turning on the controller. While you are at it, keep cold beverages at hand for the gardener!
Have a very happy 4th of July and great weekend.