Thursday, 30 April 2015

GREEN FINGERS: Veg Patches & Butterfly Gardens


There's always only been two real plans for my garden - start a veg patch and grow a butterfly garden. Both by extension lend themselves well to each other, but also help not only butterflies, but bees, insects, birds, and perhaps gets me eating more vegetables. 

To add to the challenge of creating a butterfly garden, I wanted to try and create it with adding only native to Michigan wild flowers. Granted it's not been an easy challenge, but I've learnt so much. It's not been a case of nipping to the garden center and grabbing whatever pretty flower catches my eye. But nights spent researching native flowers, their flowering season, their wants and needs. Wild flowers in their nature are incredibly beautiful, perhaps not as showy or as brightly coloured in their varieties, but they also provide habits, nesting sites, they help protect the soils and help conserve water. With human development, urbanisation, increasing use of chemicals, there's a need more than ever to help introduce native species outside of our own front door. I'm just trying to do my little part.

You could also say for the beginner and or lazy gardener (counting myself as both of those) they are hardy and require less looking after. Win win.
Plants we choose (L-R); Purple Coneflower (image source) // Tickseed (image source) //Gloriosa Daisy (image source) // Blanketflower (image source) // Sweet William (image source) // Plains Coreopsis (image source) // Dwarf Red Plains Coreopsis (image source) // Mexican Hat (image source)

So the other week I planted out ten lots of seeds from WildFlower Farm (which I highly recommend if you're a USA based gardener) all of which can be seen in the above image. As far as I could work out, they are all native to Michigan, or naturally spread to the state, and with my milkweed (for the Monarchs), they should be an attractive sight if I do say so myself. 

 Purple Deadnettles

But it's also a case of working what you already have - from the bold and showy Oriental Poppies, all the day lilies (and I mean all the day lilies, they are taking over) to leaving patches of what some may call weeds. I'm all for keeping my patches of Dead Purple Nettles around my veg patch - a favourite especially in spring for bees. If it helps out wildlife, I'm all for keeping "weeds". I am a messy gardener, come into my garden and you'll notice it's not perfectly weeded, there's flowers in my grass, there's old leaves and sticks and I'm okay with that.I'm also staying well, well away from chemicals, I'm trying to do everything as organically as I can.


We've also had our first signs of life in the veg patch. While our onions and carrots seem to still be sleeping, radishes are growing like there is no tomorrow. When you doubt your gardening skills a little, seeing those green shoots poking through is always a very welcome sight. I'm also planning to fill up out veg patch with bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, salad mixes and rhubarb. 

It's all about the basil

As I start to harden off my sunflowers, their space on my window still have already been replaced by trays (reused old cooked meat trays I might add) of herbs (basil and coriander for all my curry dishes). Herbs are both easy to grow, are an awesome addition for your cooking but many butterflies love them too. Think Catnip, Fennel, Lavender, Parsley to Chives and Thyme to name but six.


For me, gardening doesn't need to be expensive. It is about shopping around, growing from seed, researching and recycling. So when I noticed how well loved my DIY bird bath has been this spring it was high time I got around to making another. It's certainly not rocket science, just an old baking tray on a pile of old bricks. Having a couple of different depths will appeal to a variety of birds, throw in a couple of stones and you'll help the bees out too.


So that is what is occurring in my garden right now. We sadly got the pine tree chopped down yesterday (Joe's allergic and it was starting to lean a little on the garage) but after a wander around the garden center at the weekend, we're thinking up ideas of fruiting cherry trees (like how could you not want to after seeing such gorgeous blossom above?) and lots of butterfly loving bushes to fill its place.

You can always find me sharing the random day to day garden adventures (as well as cats, cross stitching and Detroit stuff) over on my instagram if that's your thing.

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