It’s been quite a while since I shared any photos from the area we call the Wild Butterfly Garden. My wife worked hard this spring to get it cleaned up and mulched, and we are now filling in a few bare spots with new plants, even as many of the existing plants are blooming. We have mostly perennials planted there, with a few biennials and annuals as well. It’s a mix of plants that attract butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and other pollinators.
We have quite a few purple coneflower plants (Echinacea purpurea) there. It’s a native plant that is attractive to many species of butterflies, so we have it in several of our other flower beds too. We don’t deadhead the flowers, since the birds (especially finches) love the seeds, so it tends to self-seed freely, and there’s always a new plant popping up here and there.
There was a big clump of lavender bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) growing here when we bought the place. We have since divided it and moved it around to various places, including two big clumps in the Wild Butterfly Garden. It’s a tough native plant, drought resistant and hardy, and the bees love it. We also have some red flowered bee balm (Monarda didyma) planted.
Another plant that is popular with the bees is catnip (Nepeta cataria), at least when it’s blooming. Of course our two cats like it too, and we do give them a sprig of it every now and then. Catnip will readily self-seed, but so far we have not had a problem with it. We also have catmint (Nepeta X faassenii ‘Walker’s Low’) planted, which the bees are fond of. The catmint blooms early in spring before many other plants are blooming, and is a bit more showy than the catnip. I cut it back after the first round of blooms and it usually blooms again later in summer.
The grey-headed coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) is also blooming now. It’s another drought tolerant plant, native to Missouri and quite adapted to the climate here at Happy Acres. The cheery yellow flowers have a grey cone shaped center that sort of resembles a tall hat or sombrero. Butterflies visit the flowers and birds will eat the seeds.
We have several herbs planted in this garden, since the blooms of many are attractive to pollinators and other beneficial insects. In addition to the chives in the below photo, we also have oregano, sage, rosemary, pineapple sage, lemon balm, bronze fennel, and several different kinds of basil planted. I also set out two parsley plants to give the swallowtail caterpillars something to feed on. And we have a trio of Millenium ornamental onions planted that are just about ready to come into bloom.
We have another plant blooming that is sometimes considered an herb, anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum). The leaves have a licorice/anise scent and can be used to make tea, but it’s the flowers that are a magnet to butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.
Another plant the hummingbirds visit is Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’. This plant has tubular scarlet red blossoms, and foliage that looks like a gladiolus. It grows from a corm, and is reliably winter hardy in our zone 6 garden.
Hummingbirds are attracted to plants with red flowers, and I always plant a few red petunias for them. That’s Easy Wave Red Velour in the below photo, planted in a big container.
I planted another one of these petunias in our cat planter. It’s only in a gallon size pot, but it’s still covered in blooms.
We have several different sedums planted in this garden. Most of them don’t begin flowering until later in the year, but Purple Emporer has foliage that is attractive even before the pink flowers come on.
We also have “Autumn Joy’ and “Indian Chief’ sedums planted, including two that grow around the bird bath. They are visited by bees and butterflies when they are blooming. Of course the bird bath is a popular hangout for the birds. The ‘Autumn Joy’ was here when we bought the place, and we have divided this easy to grow and propagate plant and planted it in several places much like we’ve done the purple coneflower.
I’ll close with one more plant that is a magnet for butterflies and bees alike, the orange butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), which is native to the eastern U.S. While I was capturing images I counted three different kinds of bees visiting the flowers. You can see a honeybee and another smaller striped bee I didn’t recognize in the below photo. They were so busy working on the flowers they didn’t mind me getting close with my camera.
We try and include a variety of plants in the Wild Butterfly Garden that provide blooms throughout the season. Other plants that we have that aren’t blooming yet include Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum), Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and Swamp Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus). I hope you have enjoyed this look at our Wild Butterfly Garden here in early July.