Danaus Plexippus Stopped By

Look! Look! There she was in our very own ‘peanut garden’ this afternoon. What a rush it was to watch her, superbly fresh and lush, working this 2017  benchmark garden. I kept going to the our large window, again and again to see if she was still there. She was still there, and she worked these native perennials for more than an hour. Our very own garden, now in its 5th year, and full, verdant with nectar here there and everywhere.

She was chased off several times by an equally pretty Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly. Royal as she is, our monarch patiently allowed the frenzied fritillary to do its thing, and each time she floated back in. What kept her highness in the peanut garden for more than an hour?

The peanut garden is in our side yard, and our side yard abuts Frick Park, a heavily wooded Pittsburgh (city) park of many hundreds of acres. The natives and others in the peanut garden:  Common milkweed; Swamp milkweed; Butterflyweed; Monkeyflower; Celery (in flower), Bergamot, Balloon flower; Buttonbush, Shrubby St.John’s wort, Green headed coneflower, Rue and Chocolate mint. All 3 of the milkweeds (Asclepias spp) are in height of bloom, and buff! very buff.

The instant monarch butterfly shown here was not the flier today. This photo is of another female, who flew in Raccoon Creek State Park, in southwestern Pennsylvania. Today’s monarch’s colors were deeper, richer. She was . . . gorgeous.

How much do I hope that she rewards us with her eggs?

Jeff

Do You Know Buttonbush?

Butterflyonbush wildflowers, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center in New York

See that’s the thing. Twenty years in, and I’m still learning. Anxious to add new native butterfly targets to my home garden, I noted that friends and knowledgeable folks included Buttonbush, when asked “What are the best shrubs to add to a garden designed to attract butterflies?”

Some of my new adds in my Pittsburgh garden have been excellent: Common milkweed, Mexican sunflower (not a native, but a winner!),  Asters,Greenhead coneflower. Others have disappointed: Clethra, sadly, never took.

I planted 3 Buttonbushes ( Cephalanthus occidentalis ) in our ‘peanut’ garden in June. All three flourished, but have a lot of growing to do, to reach that 3′ – 10.’ They prefer ‘wet feet’ in moist soil, and that part of my garden usually retains good moisture.

2017 may, should bring our first nourish of blooms, hopefully like these, met at the rich reserve of the Jamestown Audubon Center, in western New York State. Just down that same trail, I met a nice population of Baltimore Checkerspot butterflies. Nice trail that. Wetlands give.

Jeff