Movement in the Garden

Motion and movement create life in your garden, inviting you into your own yard. Do you desire an area that attracts butterflies and birds? Then incorporate plants that are inviting to the wildlife you yearn to see.

The hummingbird hovers then flits away as the butterfly lazily lolls about, looping from flower to flower, creating movement in your yard. You’re engaged as you dash to the door to see what whizzed by. You wonder, what is that bird with the red bib and white crest? It’s a ruby-throated grosbeak migrating north and it came to visit you!

A hummingbird darts by. Does that delight you? Plant flowers that hold nectar, as they are the best for hummingbirds. Hummers lick up the nectar in these flowers – and oh how fast they do!

A pop of bold red flowers blooming is a personalized invitation for hummingbirds to come dine with you. Many brightly colored flowers also invite the little hummers over for dinner.

Tubular shaped flowers hold the most nectar so they are the best choices for hummers. These include wonderful perennials, such as bee balm (Mondarda), columbine (Aquilegia) and daylily (Hemerocallis); biennials such as foxglove (Digitalis) and hollyhock (Alcea rosea); and many annuals, including petunias (Petunia), impatiens (Impatiens) and cleomes (Cleome).

Butterflies add such beauty and intrigue to the garden as you search for what stopped by to visit. You simply need to know their name!

Plan for both the adults and the caterpillars to get the entire life cycle. FYI - please put up the pesticides, as pesticides kill the butterflies and the caterpillars that hatch into the beauties you invited.

Here’s the general rule: adult butterflies “drink” from nectar plants and caterpillars eat host plants – so plant lots of host plants, as they disappear quickly when the caterpillars start munching away. Some caterpillars eat very specific plants, so search online or in a great book like The Family Butterfly Book by Rick Mikula for the preferred plant(s) of any particular butterfly.

Flowers that attract many butterflies include lantana (Lantana), butterfly bush (Buddleia), Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia), zinnia (Zinnia), pentas (Pentas), purple coneflowers (Echinacea) and milkweed (Asclepias).

Milkweed does double duty as a host plant for Monarchs. Make room for these plants each year to be rewarded with lots of movement and life in your garden!

Host plants for the caterpillars include herbs such as parsley (Petroselinum crispum), common rue (Ruta graveolens), dill (Anethum graveolens), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), as well as tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), violets (Viola odorata), carrots (Daucus carota) and passionflowers (Passiflora incarnata and Passiflora caerulea). Many trees and bushes also serve as host plants for caterpillars.

Plants that attract summer birds include Monarda, black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), blanket flower (Gaillardia), coralbells (Heuchera), coreopsis (Coreopsis), cosmos (Cosmos), flowering tobacco (Nicotiana), liatris (Liatris), Echinacea, marigolds (Calendula), Zinnia, Asters, poppies (Papaver) and sunflowers (Helianthus).

The honeybee population has been on the decline in recent years. Do you want to plant a little slice of heaven on earth for these vitally important pollinators? How beneficial it is for each one of us to help rebuild the bee colonies.

Plants that bees feast on include borage (Borago officinalis), Calendula, Crocus, hyacinth (Hyacinthus), in the spring; Monarda, Cosmos, Echinacea, snapdragons (Antirrhinum), Digitalis, and hosta (Funkia) in the summer; and Zinnia, Sedum, asters (Asteraceae), witch hazel (Hamamelis) and goldenrod (Solidago) in the fall.

So plant and let your beautiful flowers invite the friendly little foragers to frolic in your front yard!

Susan B Mead is a master gardener and a best-selling, award-winning author. She writes weekly at

5/10/2017 6:32:35 PM
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