Lets Get Started !!!
OK…let’s face it…what can you do with a live butterfly garden? Well, not much. You can’t get it to help you with the dishes…you can’t get it to help you wash the car… you can’t even get to help you cut the lawn…However, anyone, and I mean anyone, by re-using a small area in their backyard can build it, nurture it, and become simply amazed by its beauty.
Butterflies are truly, one of the most fascinating creatures on earth. They begin as an egg, hatch into a caterpillar, and metamorphose into a butterfly.
Seriously, think about it... How do you think you would manage if you had to go through three different life forms? A lot of work to only exist, as many species do, for about one week, don’t you think? And yet there are over 750 species in North America alone! I don't know about you but, take a look...I think it was worth the effort!!
Live butterfly gardens are extremely easy to build, particularly since there is nothing to "build", so let’s say “develop” instead. Lets look at the basics....
First, you need to pick a spot in your backyard that is relatively sheltered from the wind and yet enjoys ample sunlight. Lay out an area large enough so that can actually walk into the area and sit down on small bench, chair, log, rusty bucket...ok, you get the idea. Make sure that you can locate some shrubs so as to “hide” the “seat” from the general view so it becomes “your space”.
Second, you need to do a little research; I would suggest your local agricultural cooperative extension service to learn about local butterfly types and the plants they like. You will need to select two different types of plants. The host plant where the butterflies lay their eggs and where the caterpillars, when hatched, will eat. Make sure not to get too fond of these plants because the caterpillars will do some serious damage to them. How much damage you ask? Enough, that you might to “hide” them behind some good looking, non-hosting plants; remember those pictures you are going to want to take when the butterflies come home. The second kinds of plants are nectar plants. These are flowering plants that bloom at different times of the year; the ones the butterflies will feed off of the nectar that is produced in the flower, and the plants that will attract other passing butterflies.
Within your design it would be a good idea to include some sort of upright feature. This could be an existing small tree or even a 4"x4"” wooden pole. It is just a feature from which you can hang a butterfly house, or a butterfly feeder, or both. Both are excellent beacons for attracting new butterflies to the area.
Finally, you need to include some sort of water feature such as a ceramic basin, large bowl, or a mud puddle. The later will not only attract butterflies but, small children as well.
The actual layout of the area is completely up to you. Make it as extensive, as space and budget will allow. But above all, have fun with. Developing a live butterfly garden can be a great and memorable family experience. Get the kids involved, get the spouse involved, and ah...what the heck, get grandma involved. But just do it. Put it on the calendar, put it on the refrigerator door and simply do not take no for an answer from any of your helpers.
When you have finished with your project and next season rolls around you will see that everyone that was on the crew will be “fighting” for a spot on that “seat” that you provided in the “middle” of the garden.
But remember when all are off to work or school, you will be the master of your domain. You will be able to read a book or enjoy a cool beverage or both in the middle of your very own Live Butterfly Garden. You will be amazed!! Don’t forget your camera…..
In the following pages we will drill down a little further on all of these components so you can see just how easy it to develop a Live Butterfly Garden.