Butterfly Garden

I have taken the plunge. The butterfly bed is finally begun. I carted home a couple dozen plants between the Native Plant Sale at Morningside and the ButterflyFest plant sale, and the plant vendors at the farmer’s market have learned that I am a sucker for a deal.

In no order- tropical sage, ironweed, wild plumbago, buddleia, dotted horsemint, narrowleaf ironweed, black-eyed susans, more milkweed, tagetes marigolds, and calamint.

Here is what I started with- a blank slate.

After a full week of dithering about weed control and whether or not I should sheet mulch the bed first, I just started digging. The poor pot-bound plants were saying very clearly “put me in the ground!” Soon the girls started pitching in.

On Sunday I started the rock border. My husband wandered out and I turned the whole thing over to him. He did such a beautiful job! Eventually the entire bed will have a rock border.

I changed the plan around significantly, enlarging it to include the shady area by the fence and wrapping the bed all the way around one of the tulip poplars for a seating area with a bench. Instead of tilling or sheet mulching the entire bed (and then waiting three months) I just planted, then put down news print and/or cardboard between the plants and 12″ or so of mulch on top of that to kill the weeds. Within a month or two that mulch will sink down a few inches and I’ll have to add straw on top to protect the plants against frost. We have about 1/3 of the bed planted and mulched right now, with another dozen plants to go in the ground. The butterflies have already started flocking to the plants.

Since it’s already halfway through October, I’ll probably lay down the rest of the border rocks, sheet mulch the remaining 2/3 of the areas marked out for beds, and let them compost until spring. Then I can set aside money through the winter for another spending spree at the spring native plant sale in March, and we’ll finish the project then. It feels so good to have this started!

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