Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Butterflies and Bees

I have long been interested in gardening for wildlife, so Asclepias was one of the first seed packets I ordered. Unfortunately I had no luck with my haphazard scatter-the-seeds approach, so I was thrilled to finally pick some plants up--and see the results, a visiting monarch.
Not only are the multicolored blooms gorgeous, they are the host plant for monarch butterfly larvae. I hope to see some of the cool striped caterpillars, but I hope this is not a dangerous spot, as it is near the vole habitat, and I read that mice eat monarch caterpillars. A marauding neighborhood cat has taken a toll on the voles, who feast on my compost and bird seed but seem to leave the garden alone (but a sad aside, I think the cat killed a baby robin the other day).
Surprisingly, I have not seen many butterflies on the joe pye weed, but I am enjoying the tall blooms.
But it is all about the bees lately. Look at the gobs of pollen on this one (on a blazing star):
They also really dig the summersweet (Clethra). Clethra takes forever to leaf out in spring, so plant it it the back of a border, but it more than makes up for that with its fragrance, so put it where you'll enjoy it.
I hope the bees are visiting the cucumber and winter squash flowers:
Look, recovering from the squash vine borer attack just fine!
They certainly love the lavender.
I need many more small flowered perennials to attract the good guys. My plan is to fill out my beds with Agastache and yarrow, or maybe Salvia and Penstemom too, but it will have to wait until early fall, when this heat wave and drought breaks--and hopefully some nurseries will be having sales then too.


  1. When do you start your winter squash? Did you directly sow or transplant them? We're only just now starting to see the tiniest beginnings of blossoms on our butternuts.

    Thanks for the okra recipes, by the way - that Egyptian okra in particular sounds kind of amazing. I'm hoping to get at least one good batch of gumbo in from this summer's harvest too; now if I can just find some andouille...

  2. You're quite welcome. Since you are not vegetarian, you might want to check out the meat versions of it too--bamia/bamya.
    I direct-sowed the winter squash sometime the week of May 15. It is North Georgia Candy Roaster. Butternut is supposed to be resistant to the squash vine borer, so I am interested to see if that is the case.
    My summer squash got a later start because the initial sowing went nowhere (probably all the bolting broccoli that was sharing the bed), so I am just starting to get any signs of bloom on it.