Last year I started what was intended to be a butterfly garden, but which has since morphed into the Wild Garden. Oh, it still attracts lots of butterflies. But shortly after planting it I discovered it attracted much more. The bees arrived long before the butterflies found it. They loved the catmint blossoms, which happened to be one of the first plants to bloom. Pollinators are plentiful too. And finches and other birds love the seeds from the various spent flowers. Deadheading? Not in this garden! This year I even planted Red Sun sunflowers just for the birds. They loved them of course, and stripped the seeds from the heads in no time.
The garden is a mix of annuals and perennials, short and tall, the well-behaved and the wild-mannered. It’s currently got purple and white coneflowers, black-eyed Susan, butterfly weed, anise hyssop, Sedum, Salvia, and lavender for perennials. This year’s annuals included Zinnia, Tithonia, sunflower, Cosmos, Salvia and marigold. I planted fennel and parsley as host plants for the Swallowtail butterflies, but they seemed to prefer to lay their eggs on the carrot greens in the nearby kitchen garden. I didn’t have the heart to move the caterpillars, but even though they munched away on the greens we still had plenty of carrots.
It’s good that I’ve never been concerned about keeping up with the Joneses. I mean, if the Joneses saw this garden they might scream “why haven’t you pulled those weeds? Why don’t you clean up that mess?!?” I would tell them “It’s a Wild Garden”, but then I’m not speaking to the Joneses anymore. It’s a lot easier that way.
It’s late October and the wildlife is still loving the Wild Garden, and frankly, so am I. We’ve got bees and butterflies aplenty feasting on the bounty that’s left. They don’t seem to mind the mess, so why should I? I’ll leave it as it is all winter. Something will find food or shelter there in the months to come. I’ll clean it up next spring, before I plant more annuals. I’ll plant, keep it weeded for as long as I can get around in it, and then it will become another Wild Garden. That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.