Thursday, July 25, 2013

Summersweet and Butterflies

I like to travel back roads, whenever practical, to get from place to place. Driving through neighborhoods, I'm able to see some spectacular gardens. This week, I've noticed tons of butterflies on butterfly bushes (Buddleia), Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium), milkweed (Asclepias) and a few other plants that seem to attract the winged wonders. While driving around the other day, my friend Jan saw swallowtails all over a butterfly bush. Within the hour she was out at our nursery to buy one for her new home. Later, we were in my backyard when we saw HUNDREDS of swallowtails on a Clethra , that, because of the rain, had tripled in size this year.

They flew within inches of us. Several butterflies would land on a single flower. Clethra, also known as Summersweet, is well named. The fragrance from the 7 foot shrub is wonderful! Too bad it is planted so far away from the patio. It is a native plant through most of the northeast and does well in moist areas.

We have recommended many plants for attracting butterflies and have even planted a butterfly and hummingbird garden in our water garden display area at Valley View Farms. Our signs have butterfly icons on them if they do attract butterflies as either nectar producing plants or as larval hosts. Some butterflies are plant specific, like the Monarch that is attracted to Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). Swallowtails and other butterflies are attracted to a wide range of perennials and shrubs. Annual flowers like lantana, and herbs, like dill, also draw all sorts of butterflies.

We have a very informative handout available at the store that highlights plants that are attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. I am personally in awe of the attractiveness of the Clethra. I'm sure our wet spring and summer have a lot to do with how large and healthy this particular plant is right now in my garden.

Butterflies are a bonus to our summer gardens. Treat them well by avoiding pesticide use near them. Keep some of the garden a little wild as well groomed gardens are not a favorite habitat of many forms of wildlife.Water should be available to butterflies as well. Most importantly, enjoy butterflies and your garden this summer

Saturday, July 6, 2013

How did it go?

So we made it through spring and early summer without selling a single impatiens plant. Whew! It was hard to imagine last year that people would plant other shade-loving plants instead of this longtime favorite. But begonias, caladiums, New Guinea impatiens and lots of other plants are now growing in gardeners' yards all over the country. And, according to what we've been hearing, have done so very successfully. Many people have stopped in to say that having to plant something different has been fun and adventurous. They love the new plants and have combined texture, color and foliage like never before.
All of our greenhouse staff thank all of you for trusting us and for giving some of these other plants a try. We'd also love to hear from you about how your season went without impatiens. Or, if you did purchase them from another grower, how are they doing? Feel free to post pictures and add comments to our blog or facebook page.