Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Child's Butterfly Garden

We inherited a few clumps of Autumn Joy sedum when we bought our house; the sedum, which is drought-tolerant, and bears clusters of tiny flowers that are very attractive to butterflies, blooms in the fall, when most other flowers are spent.

Last autumn we were treated to daily visits from six painted lady butterflies, who would cluster together on the sedum plants for much of the day. The butterflies grew so accustomed to our presence that my son and I could sit inches away from them, and watch them uncurl their slender proboscises to suck nectar out of the flowers.

My son, who had previously been wary of butterflies as part of a general disdain toward insects that fly (and who had, in fact, once, after a particularly unsettling visit to the Butterfly House, suffered for about two months from a terrible recurring nightmare about innocent caterpillars turning into pretty butterflies and then transforming once more into SOMETHING ELSE that was apparently too terrible for him to accurately describe) became so entranced by these painted ladies that he asked to check out a book on butterflies from the library.

And then he asked for another butterfly book, and another, and another. And pretty soon we were purchasing a brick-sized butterfly identification guide from the bookstore, and my four-year-old child was instructing me on migration ranges and caterpillar habitats, and learning to say things like Nymphalidae.

So, I am helping my son plant a butterfly garden in front of the house this year. Last fall, we dug out the bed and planted a mixed row of tulips, hyacinths and daffodils — easy, showy perennial flowers with an early spring bloom. We're starting butterfly weed and echinacea (both native Missouri plants) from seed in our basement mad gardeners' lab. And we recently visted Sugar Creek Gardens in Kirkwood to pick up some Aromatic Aster (another native flower).

Once we've passed the frost date, we'll be adding some plants that are edible for insects and humans, including parsley (which last year successfully attracted the spectacular Black Swallowtail to my vegetable garden), pansies and nasturtiums. And of course, Isaac's chamomile.

1 Comentário:

Raquita said...

okay I want some of all of that...

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