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In the garden

By BY CELESTE CASH - Second Nature Seed & Garden
July 11, 2012 at 2:11 a.m.

Although this topic has been approached from a variety of angles, I just want to simplify it enough so the average gardener can participate. Many articles are written describing all the components necessary to complete a garden that will attract butterflies without hesitation. The truth is, if there are butterflies in your area, there are a few easy things you can do to make your garden more appealing than the neighbor's. The more you put into the area, the more likely you are to be successful in attracting these miniature miracles.

I read somewhere that gardening for butterflies is a suspenseful art, a bit like holding a picnic and wondering if your invited guests will show up. I believe that if you provide all or most of the components of a butterfly garden you will have some degree of success. And, although having a "butterfly garden" is a wonderful idea, many of us don't have the time or the room. The easy answer is to incorporate the needs of the butterfly into your existing landscape.

On the largest level, all butterflies need food, shelter, water and lots of sunshine. Most existing landscapes have two of these four. The only things that may or not be missing are food and sunlight. If you have a garden with plenty of sunlight you can attract butterflies with little additional effort.

Allow for several mud puddles in the landscape. Butterflies need these as a way to get water and minerals. Splashing water also helps attract them, so any water feature incorporated into the landscape will help accomplish this. Butterflies can only drink in shallow areas. Fill some of the area with gravel so they will have a place to rest while watering. Loose, airy shrubs provide good cover and windbreaks. Adding a few large, flat rocks will provide a nice place for the butterflies to rest and absorb warmth. This is especially important in early spring.

Most of our coastal gardens have plants that are butterfly attractants. Lantana, verbena, coneflower and zinnias abound, just to name a few. Host plants such as dutchman's pipe, passionflower and butterfly milkweed are common in many gardens. Pentas, zinnias and batchelor buttons are a few types of annuals that attract butterflies. And, several butterfly species are attracted to herbs as well.

The point of all of this is to say that you probably have some or all of these components working. Having them all at the same time will give you much pleasure as you enjoy the many species of butterflies we have in our part of the woods.

Gardening Tips: Over the last couple of weeks we have been setting out watermelon rind for the chickens. The best part is the butterflies have found a great supply of nectar. Different times of the day the rind is covered with a variety of butterflies



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