Sunday, May 31, 2009

Themes: Butterflies and Hummingbirds by KCB

KCB is a professional gardener and friend who does wonderful work in the Greater Portland area. KCB is also an accredited Master Gardener by the Cooperative Extension Service and we are proud to tell you that KCB rules as the 2008 Maine Master Gardener of the Year. And we are honored to have KCB as part of our Skillin's Garden Log family.

KCb is back at the Skillin's Garden Log with a vengeance!

Must be ‘western or cowboy day’, my mind wondered as I passed a group of children as they waited at their bus stop. Cowboy hats, boots, bandanas, even a western style fringed shirt were sported by the grammar school little ones. Children are not the only ones subject to theme days. I worked for 2 large and successful corporations that occasionally would offer theme days for the benefit of ‘fun in the work place’. We had our Cowboy/girl days, Halloween costume contests, even a day to dress as our favorite literary figure or movie star. While we had to keep within the boundaries of work place dress and good taste, many of us would welcome the challenge.

Themes are not just about dressing up. Without realizing it many decorate their homes according to a theme. Holidays, notably Christmas, different rooms boast of different themes. Country, Victorian, Patriotic, child and or pet friendly are considered styles by some, themes by others. Eclectic style appears to be an easy theme yet often takes the most forethought to make it work----well. A theme gone awry within the 4 walls can be costly. Even if it works, soon becomes weary, bordering on confining. Not so with theme gardens.

A Theme Garden begins with your imagination. One of the most popular themes is the Butterfly or Bird Gardens. A fave theme of mine is the Woodland Garden, and another, the ‘Moon’ or Evening Garden. I could go on. Today I will focus on a theme of the most popular theme. Throughout the season I will write on others. If there is a particular gardening theme you wish to learn more about, simply contact the Skillin’s Garden Log and that theme will be the next focus.

What makes up a landscape and garden beds that will attract butterflies, birds and other assorted wildlife. Most of us in Maine know what attracts deer, groundhogs even rabbit. What will lure a variety of birds, butterflies and beneficial insects may take some planning, the chances are that many of your favorite perennials are just the thing to attracted winged friend. In an age of multitasking the following garden theme is designed to attract the Butterfly and fellow winged wonder, the Hummingbird.

Butterfly and Hummingbird Haven

Things to consider:

· Species of Butterflies for the area (Maine has many but will pinpoint just a few)
· Nectar Plants
· Host Plants (butterfly eggs, larvae and chrysalis)
· Sunlight
· Water source
· Protection from wind/weather

Sunlight: Butterflies and Hummingbirds and the plants they enjoy are all sun lovers. Look for a spot that will have full sun, at least 6-8 hours of mid-day sun.

Plants: Nectar is not only for gods but Butterflies and Hummingbirds. Butterflies will perch on their indulgence of choice while the hummingbird prefers to drink on the run. A hummingbird dines on aphids and small spiders and looks to tubular and trumpet shaped flowers to satisfy his/her sweet tooth. Red, deep pinks, corals are more attractive to the tiny bird whereas butterflies are less partial to color.

Nectar Plants favored by butterflies:

· Purple Cone Flower
· Joe Pye Weed
· Butterfly Bush
· Butterfly Weed
· Liatris
· Tickseed Coreopsis
· Clover
· Chives
· Sedum (Stonecrop)-Autumn Joy and Neon are real attractors.
· Hollyhock
· Day Lily
· Cimicifuga Snakeroot
· New England Aster
· Host Plants (caterpillars)
Note: if it looks as if the foliage is being eaten, that is a good thing!
· Milkweed, Common or Swamp (Monarch)
· Dill, Parsley, Carrot (including Queen Anne’s Lace) (Swallowtail)
· Thistle, Hollyhock & Mallow (Painted Lady)
· Sunflower family & Iron Weed (American Lady)
· Violets (Various Fritillary)

Hummingbird Nectar Plants-opt for single blossom varieties for ease of entry.

· Bee Balm
· Heuchera Coral Bells
· Peach Leafed Bell Flower
· Salvia ‘Purple Majesty’
· Beard-Tongue
· Trumpet Vine
· Weigela
· Evergreen Azaleas
· Quince
· Day Lilies
· Annuals:
o Nicotiana, Snapdragon, Fuchsia, Nasturtium

Hummingbird Nest Sites:

· Shrubs, such as sumac, witch hazel, northern arrowwood viburnum, and winterberry.
· Trees; Beech, Maple,

Other Elements:

· Offer several shallow water sources close to the ground.
· Flat rocks are favored perching areas for butterflies.
· Incorporate twigs and bare branches to serve as hummingbird perches. Low canopied trees also serve well.
· Substitute Nectar in the way of hummingbird and/or butterfly feeders
· Incorporate host and nectar for a true habitat
· Add or create a butterfly house to protect from predatory birds
· Incorporate a seating area for you to enjoy the liveliness of your garden

As in most attractive beds consider height when planting. It does make sense to place the tallest plants such as Joe Pye in the back of the border or utilize shrubs such as the Butterfly Bush or Weigela as specimens. Do not be afraid to break from the sensible by grouping the Joe in a clump that spans front to back of the bed. To bookend the Joe, install a mass of plants half the height, such as purple coneflower or bee balm. This will create definition and different look than the norm. A theme on the Joe Pye companion would be to plant rows of Joe behind rows of Autumn Joy or Neon Sedum. The Juxtaposition with the height along with similar flower heads is sure to be a conversation piece.

Plant like plants in drifts to keep nectar and hosting plants in close proximity. Yet do keep in mind enough circulation for plant and bird. Incorporate containers and hanging baskets into the bed and landscape. Fill with annuals that attract. This arrangement will add height and add ease of availability and view for both feeder and observer. Poke shaped twigs to promote perching.

Next time………..a fragrant garden that glows in the moonlight…………..

KCB for Skillin's Greenhouses
May 31, 2009

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