I’ve planted a butterfly garden. At least I’ve planted my side yard with flowers, mostly natives, that butterflies are said to enjoy.
This is what the space used to look like. Overgrown with thistles, here seen through a shrubby plum tree, a mock orange, and bamboo.
Thistles, filling the space in sunlight.
Thistles, finally cut down.
Then I drew that little pencil sketch above. Plotting sage, milkweed, yarrow, mint, checking for height and color.
Then, last November, we planted. Imagine you walked through that plum tunnel above, this is what you see now. Lining the fence,
and accompanied by a horde of volunteer myosotis along the wall of my house. Those stumps are the remains of three Monterey pines that towered over us for years. I used to climb up on the roof and sweep pine needles. Once even when pregnant. I love trees, mind you, but those were non-benign. Best planted along a fierce coast, where they come from.
Now, with any luck, some friends will visit.
Here’s a butterfly’s view.
I think butterflies can look past a weed or two.
We moved the bush anemones from under the oak, where they were perishing. Butterflies, this is for you. A flower boudoir shot, in case you’re feeling romantical.
Butterfly gardens don’t require native plans, as butterflies don’t eat taxonomies. If they like the nectar, they come. But it’s safer, and more fun, really, to sort out which plants those gaudy brilliant flyers grew up on. Native plant nurseries can provide both plants and knowledge. I planted, I confess, without a strict observance of light requirements — I hope the plants bloom despite my lack of attention to detail.
Just this week, we had a spell of summer weather. I was standing at my kitchen window, and I saw, above the abelia hedge, a pair of flapping orange wings. I ran outside in bare feet, exclaiming. Then, really, I ran back inside, and round to the window that overlooks my new plantings. I’ll be darned if the little critter didn’t fly over the fence and land on the warm ground, where it rested, for a few seconds, opening and closing its wings.
One came, one actually came. I’ve ordered this book and will keep it to hand. If I could send out invitations, letterpressed, flower-covered, serve champagne on trays, I would.
Butterfly cast of characters, starting top left of collage, moving clockwise.