Butterfly Garden Planted Last March Turns One Year Old – Take a look!!
Remember last year when we posted pictures of some new mounds in the Casa La Paz parking area and installed teeny tiny little plants and “premiered” our “new” Butterfly Garden? (If you don’t remember, here is a link to that post.)
At the time, it took a fair bit of imagination (and close-up pics) to understand what we were talking about… but now, after one year – this garden requires NO imagination and very little irrigation. It screams: “Take a look at me now!” and it beckons people to come admire the beautiful flowers and it beckons butterflies to come feast. See the whole process through a series of photos on our facebook album! Click here!
Here we will outline the process of creating this garden and the progress throughout the year to give you an idea about the installation and possible progression of installing and maintaining a native garden. This is one approach and it worked for our site… as always – plans and plants must be tailored to the site that you are working with, the materials and labor available to you, and, as always: budget.
First, we set some goals and a vision for the new garden:
Where: Around the Casa La Paz Parking Lot
- Butterfly plants
- LOTS OF FLOWERS (massed; butterflies see big patches better than individual scattered plants.)
- Perennial (ie. green plants when not in flower)
- Some annuals (ie. plants that flower then reseed and die, planted from direct seed)
- Rapid growth
- Sub-shrubs (not too tall so as to entirely screen plants behind the mound)
- Soil – imported, weed free, mounded, moderately well-draining
- Full hot sun year-round
- Temporary only, no irrigation to be installed, plants that thrive being ignored 🙂
- Supplemental water was applied only five times during the entire 2014 dry (very dry) season… on a brand new planting.
2. Site Prep:
- Mound soil, natural contours, pretty easy for us with the equipment we have!
- Import attractive boulders and rocks, place them in naturalistic arrangements
3. Time to choose plants
- We chose plants congruent with the theme we had chosen, the site conditions and the maintenance goals.
4. Care and Maintenance
- Very heavy, long soak when plants were planted.
- See our installation guide, here. (Believe it or not, we DO follow these directions!)
- This article from 2009 also gives an example of initial planting techniques
- Note: we used very small container sizes… smaller containers = less work as far as digging holes and to ensure easy transition… the younger the plant, the easier the transition to your site.
- Deep soaks in April (last year’s rain’s were meager), May and June (monthly for three months), once also in July, but only when there was a cloud cover over a few days (ie… NOT during a hot spell).
- One additional watering in September, late September! Again – beware of watering DURING a hot spell. Do not water during heat waves. Watch the weather forecasts and water as needed a few days BEFORE a hot weather event.
- We let the rain take care of the rest!
Our Irrigation System:
Our irrigation system consists of a series of micro-sprinklers attached to a garden hose. We leave it on for 4-6 hours, it scatters about .25” precipitation per hour. We do not water during mid-day heat or when the wind would blow the water away.
We were lucky this year – we had nicely spaced out sprinkles in late Oct, Nov, Dec, and heavier rain in Jan. Had it been as dry as 2013, we would have dragged the ol’ hose out and followed the same approximate schedule: Water monthly Oct-Dec.
Now we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor with all the flowers and the critters that enjoy them!
Our big task(s) moving forward:
- Continue to monitor water… possible soakings this spring
- WEEDING – the big challenge will be to make sure we keep the plants we want and not the ones we don’t want. We will never be free of unwanted plants without a little elbow grease.
- An under-appreciated aspect of hand weeding and watering is that you get to enjoy this time in the garden… observing the flowers in bloom, the development of your plants and the kinds of creatures visiting your plants!
We hope you found this garden lovely to to see here online – come out and see it in person soon! Check out a complete photo album of the process in this photo album.