Thank you for joining me in the making of my garden. This section is the beginning of my garden – the first bed I created. I call it the Bird & Butterfly Garden because my intention was to plant plants to attract birds and butterflies. To view a sequential slide show of the making of the Bird & Butterfly Garden, simply click on the first image below. You will be taken to an enlarged viewing screen. Click the arrows on either side of each image to navigate, or use the arrows on your keyboard. (Please note the slideshow may not work properly on your mobile phone.)
The first Spring 2008. Site of the new Bird & Butterfly Garden.
The beginnings of the Bird & Butterfly Garden Summer 2008. I have added two ornamental grasses, Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ and Panicum, Switch Grass ‘Dallas Blues.’ Not only will they offer cover and protection for birds and insects but they will take the place of shrubs in this border with their large upright habit and winter interest. Coneflowers were planted for their nectar and seeds. A patch of bee balm attracts hummingbirds.
The new bed wraps around to the back of the workshop/garage. A Forsythia that I grew from a cutting from my Maine garden anchors the corner. Not the best choice for birds and butterflies, a native flowering shrub such as the Swallowtail host plant Spicebush would be a better choice in retrospect, also offering early blooms and berries, but the Forsythia holds sentimental value for me and I enjoy bringing cuttings indoors in early spring.
What a difference a year makes! The Bird & Butterfly Garden in the Summer of 2009. Verbascum (the tall yellow spikes of flowers), a bee magnet, has seeded itself freely. Shasta daisies make good landing pads for a variety of pollinators. What hummingbird would pass up that bright red patch of bee balm?
Another view of 2009 from in back of the workshop looking towards the house. Nectar offering ‘Husker Red’ beardtongue is blooming in the foreground. Cardinals and goldfinch eat its seeds.
Finally a Spring show in 2010! A white daffodil lost in a sea of native Forget-me-nots. Large drifts of color attract butterflies more so than single specimen plantings.
Summer of 2010. A driftwood sculpture reminiscent of a Blue Heron stands among the now large drifts of perennials. Swamp milkweed hosts Monarchs, Oenothera Evening Primrose (yellow flowers blooming in the foreground) attracts bees and birds.
Late Summer into Fall 2010. Helianthus Microcephalus, Small-headed Sunflower, a perennial, grows taller and is an important nectar source late in the season for many types of bees. Birds enjoy their seeds.
Summer 2011 and Baptisia ‘Prairie Blues’ has grown to “shrub-sized proportions” as its description promised. Its showy seed pods offer seasonal interest.
Heliopsis ‘Summer Nights’ shriveled up and disappeared in 2009 only to reappear and reappear throughout the entire bed in subsequent years. It has even appeared across the driveway on the other side of the workshop. I’m certain birds helped propagate this plant throughout my garden by eating and dispersing its seeds. And what butterfly could resist a landing pad like this? Its stems also house beneficial insects through the Winter.
A Joe and Susan love affair in the Fall of 2011. If I could only plant one plant to attract butterflies and birds, my choice would be Joe-Pye Weed. The minute Joe opens its tiny flowerettes, they are swarmed by butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and many kinds of pollinators. The birds, especially Chickadees I’ve noticed, feed upon the seed heads of Black-eyed Susans throughout the Winter.
White Admiral Butterfly on Joe-Pye Weed
The driftwood sculpture and seed heads of Black-eyed Susans, Monarda, and Coneflowers catch the snow in the Winter of 2011. This is my Winter bird feeder.
Daffodils are beginning to naturalize by Spring 2012. Forsythia blooms in the background. Although these bright yellow blooms offer me a good dose of Spring cheer, none of them offers any nectar for early bees, aside from Crocus. I hope to add native ephemerals such as Virginia Bluebells and Hepatica over the next few years for my insect friends.
Lady’s Mantle edging is becoming more emphasized in 2012. Its wonderful ruffled leaves catch drops of morning dew.
Dew drops on the leaves of Lady’s Mantle
Ornamental grasses ‘Morning Light’ and ‘Dallas Blues’ all grown up and set off by Black-eyed Susans and Joe-Pye, steal the show in the Fall of 2012. This garden bed is a small “corridor” offering safe passage and a connection to the back garden. Far more enticing to wildlife than bare, open lawn.
Rounding the corner, the bed is expanded further out from the workshop in 2012, and a Yellow Twig Dogwood and low growing evergreens are added. The dogwood will offer Spring flowers that are useful to pollinators, berries for the birds, and yellow stems for winter interest, especially set against the evergreens which will provide more cover. A young River Birch is also planted, providing more seed for birds and a host plant for Mourning Cloak butterflies. The grass path is narrowing between the Bird & Butterfly Garden and the newer Woodland Edge bed to the left. One day the two beds will merge.
The Bird & Butterfly Garden wraps entirely around the back of the workshop in 2012 shifting into Hosta Row, a shady retreat.