Friday, July 10, 2015

Attract Butterfly Royalty to Your Garden. Welcome, Monarch!

Butterflies bring out the child in me!

I started chasing butterflies when I was five or six (that's me at age 6). When I got my first single-lens reflex camera my freshman year in college, I started photographing them.

Several years ago, I started a butterfly diary and have continued to record the butterfly activity in our yard. Admittedly, the fluttering around our yard is impacted by the number of trees we have. Shade is a blessing on a blistering hot day and when the electric bill comes due, but it also casts a shadow on a butterfly garden.

We do, however, have a precious little patch under our kitchen window that the sun shines bright on for enough hours of the day for black-eyed susan, bee balm, zinnias and a large butterfly milkweed plant--asclepias--to grow.

The pink butterfly milkweed is the caviar of the monarch world. It can be somewhat difficult to find. I ordered mine online. But, it's easy to grow, hardy (it winters over in our borderline Zone 4) and, if you let it go to seed, will send up new plants the following year. Plant it in the back of the garden, though. It grows to four feet high or so.

The pink butterfly milkweed is the caviar of the monarch world. The butterfly lays her eggs singly on the leaves and blooms of this plant. When they hatch, the larvae feast on the plant and when ready, build a stunning green chrysalis trimmed in gold specks.

This flashy caterpillar was one of 23 that hatched on my milkweed a couple of summers ago. I think I squealed with delight that morning!

This pretty lady hung around the milkweed plant for four to five hours one day last week. She fed on the blooms and laid A LOT! of eggs. Can't wait to see how many hatch.

Looking forward to having more garden royalty in the coming month.

A note about my photos:  I had fun enhancing the horizontal top photo and the collage with lovely textures from Kim Klassen.

Make it a great day!