I like color in my garden–red, purple, blue, some orange. Vibrant. Brilliant. Butterfly- and hummingbird-attracting. Bees, too. So, this year in my new, evolving garden I tried something different. I sowed Flanders poppies all over, along with
some red clover, the latter better as a cover crop, but pretty. It’s gone now, but the poppies are still blooming. Some orange California poppies were already there, and I added some yellow and red Gaillardia (Blanket flower). The purples are yet to come. I bought the seed in bulk, and I can admit now that I probably got carried away. But they’re beautiful, especially as the morning light shines through their almost translucent papery petals. People stop their cars and take pictures. They’ll soon be gone, and the lavender and Santolina they’ve been smothering will
now begin to thrive. Some folks consider the California poppies invasive or a nuisance–I guess they can be, depending upon where they are. But I love ’em. When they’re finished blooming, and after they self-seed, I simply pull the plants out. I met my first Gaillardia about ten years ago in a school garden. The colors practically leaped out of the bed. Finally, I found a source for the plants and am happy to report that there is also now a Gaillardia “Burgundy” which is taller and solid red. Butterflies love all these plants because their blooms are “open,” allowing the butterflies a place to stand while they slurp up the nectar with their proboscis. Speaking of which, my new children’s gardening book, The Dead Butterflies Diary, will be out next month. Betsy finds dead butterflies in the garden and investigates how it happened and who did it. This is the third in my “circle” of kid gardening books with a plot. It joins Mrs. Feeny and the Grubby Garden Gang and Zack’s Zany Zucchiniland, both of which are ebooks for $3.99. All are 8×10″ picture books for kids about 5-10 years old. Dead Butterflies will eventually become an ebook as well. Betsy cares as much about butterflies as I do. That’s why she was determined to find out how they were killed. You, too, can plant a butterfly garden, even a small plot or one in a container. Just plant butterflies’ favorite flowers and they will come: daisies, coneflowers, butterfly bush, cosmos, alyssum, nasturtium, zinnias, marigolds, thyme, yarrow, verbenas, dianthus, asters, lilacs, lobelia, and so many more. Butterflies add beauty to the garden, and they’re pollinators, too.