I love to color my vegetable garden beds with lots of flowers. Coneflowers, Zinnias, Marigolds and Coreopsis and others add pops of bright color to my drab raised beds made of weathered gray wood filled with rich brown soil. I plant a few annuals throughout the garden, but I mainly rely on perennials to provide fierce color year after year. To keep my flowers blooming beautifully, there’s one simple thing I do consistently – and that’s deadheading. Deadheading is a weird name for ‘cutting off the flower’. It only takes a few minutes of my time, but it’s a true game changer.
This summer I upped my gardening game by delving into designing themed flowerbeds. First on my list was to create a beautiful space that would attract pollinators, especially Monarch butterflies, to my home garden. It’s quite amazing how vital bees, butterflies and other pollinators are to the viability of the human food supply. Without these little creatures, we would not enjoy the abundance of food we too often take for granted every day. With a little effort, I was able to turn my backyard into a sanctuary of plants that support the existence of native pollinator species.
If you want to create an outdoor space that’s beautiful, peaceful and relaxing a small home butterfly garden may be for you. Butterfly gardens are designed to attract butterflies and other pollinators to a specific area where they can find food and water, as well as, and locate a safe place to lay eggs. Plus, if you’re like me and love to take pictures of your garden – you’ll have lots of opportunities to capture some amazing shots of beautiful pollinators that stop by!
Fortunately, designing a sanctuary where you want to hang out, in addition to providing a habitat where native butterflies can pollinate and populate can be created in a few simple steps.
This year my garden has taken on new life. On a whim, I planted an entire 4×8 raised bed with nothing but flowers. I wanted to add more beauty to my garden and create a zen space where I could enjoy my morning coffee. I believed that adding flowers would be the change I needed.
I searched online for the best flowers to attract pollinators. But in addition to being pollinator-friendly, I also wanted to plant long-blooming flowers that:
1) grow well in my zone
2) are annuals (so I could plant something else in the bed next year)
3) produce colorful blooms
4) yield lovely cut flowers for my kitchen counter arrangements.
So based on my wish list, I bought zinnias, butterfly weeds, butterfly flowers, and poppies. I prepared my raised bed by adding bags of organic garden soil and a couple of buckets of compost from my tumber-style bin. I tilled the soil well and hand spread the seeds. I lightly raked the dirt from one side of the raised bed to the other to cover the seeds with about 1-2 inches of soil. Then I watered the bed using the “shower” setting on the spray nozzle. I wanted to dampen the soil without disturbing the delicate seeds underneath. I watered regularly in the mornings and waited for the seeds to sprout.
I’m amazed at the beautiful butterflies and bees that visit my garden now. I can’t resist taking photos of the different butterflies as they dance from bloom to bloom feeding and pollinating plants along the way. I have to be very quiet in their presence, or else they fly away.
Enjoying the beauty of the butterflies and capturing their visit with my camera is a calming and rewarding moment in an otherwise hectic day. Here’s an additional resource to check out if you’re you’re eager to bring more pollinators to your garden.