Thursday, July 18, 2013

Creating a Butterfly Garden

It is easy and fun to attract butterflies, the “flowers of the air” to your garden. Planning especially for these beautiful, ephemeral creatures enables you to see their intricate wing patterns up close as well as play an active role in the important work of pollinator conservation. In home gardens, the presence of butterflies flitting and frolicking in carefree flight indicates a healthy and well-integrated habitat.

Butterflies seek flower nectar for nourishment and fuel for flying. With each sip from the heart of a flower blossom, grains of pollen also gather on the butterfly’s body, and it then helps pollinate the garden as it flutters from blossom to blossom. Flowers advertise their unique personal attributes of color, scent, and shape to lure butterflies to land upon them, thus ensuring the spreading of their seeds.

A successfully designed habitat that sustains butterflies includes food, shelter, water and warmth.

Since butterflies are attracted to both flower colors and shapes, plan large groups of plants that provide big splashes of brilliant color to draw them, instead of isolating a single flower plant here and there throughout the garden. Sunny days in the garden are synonymous with a busy freeway of flying butterflies. The hot sun warms their wing muscles, enabling them to soar and fly while going about their job of pollinating, so situate the butterfly garden in the warmest, sunniest area.

On gusty summer days, they need protection from the wind, which is easily provided by arranging tall flowering plants at the back of the border to make it comfortable for the butterflies while they are “nectaring.”

As children are attracted to puddles of water, so are butterflies. A shallow water element in the form of a bird bath, decorative stone water container, or small water garden situated in the ground will serve their needs and add interest to the garden.

Be sure to include a mix of different flowering plants. Here are a few of my favorites:

For the back of a border, the shiny, fern-like, coppery foliage of “SMOKEY” BRONZE FENNEL with its golden umbrella-like flowers is a stunning backdrop for lower growing plants. A long dramatic row of “TORCH” TITHONIA planted at the back of the border makes a blazing hedge of brilliant orange-red landing pad blossoms, and provides both a convenient perch and windscreen for winged visitors. “CINNAMON SUN” or CHOCOLATE CHERRY” SUNFLOWERS glow in deep and deeper red colors and “SUN SAMBA” dances in a full range of bright colors: from cream yellow and deep gold to bicolors in shades of bronze and mahogany over gold.

For the mid-border, air-waltzing butterflies will be attracted to the searing scarlet and orange colors of “PERSIAN CARPET” or “LITTLE LION” ZINNIAS. Charming semi-dwarf “MUSIC BOX” SUNFLOWER offers a range of pretty, golden yellow shades and bicolors that add visual interest or choose “LITTLE LADYBIRDS” or “WHITE SEASHELLS” COSMOS. “BERGAMO” MONARDA is another midrange butterfly magnet.

Line the front of the border with fluffy apricot pillows of “SUMMER PEACHES” ALYSSUM, or “SUMMER SPLASH” or “SIGNET STARFIRE” MARIGOLDS to create a welcoming effect. Or, plant FRENCH or CREEPING THYME, MARJORAM or OREGANO, as the blossoms of these perennial herbs also attract butterflies big-time.

All of these flower selections are excellent choices not only for butterflies, but for gardeners as well as they are beautiful and long blooming garden flowers through the season.

Browse our complete list of Renee’s Garden Butterfly Flowers and Herbs, or choose our Seeds For A Butterfly Garden Bonus Pack, which includes 3 individual packets of easy to grow heirloom butterfly flower varieties to bring butterflies all summer long. It includes complete planting and growing instructions and garden design information.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Seed of the Month: Smokey Bronze Fennel

Striking Bronze Fennel has 4 to 5 foot plumes of filigreed coppery leaves and lacy golden flower
umbels that ripen mellow anise-flavored seeds. These plants are stunning additions to herb or
flower beds and are major nectar hosts for many butterfly species (especially swallowtails).

Season seafood, salads or cooked vegetables with sprigs of the feathery copper-bronze leaves.
Tea made from the aromatic leaves or sweet seeds soothes upset stomachs and calms the nerves.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

June Recipe: Classic Fresh Pesto Sauce

One of the best ways to enjoy an abundant basil harvest. Visit our online catalog to see the 11 varieties of basil we carry.

3 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 large cloves garlic (more if you love it)
1 1/2 tsp. fresh oregano or 3/4 tsp. dried
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper (or to taste)
1/2 to 2/3 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts or pecan meats
Salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients except the cheese and nuts in a food processor or blender, adding enough olive oil to make a thick, smooth sauce. Add the nuts and cheese and combine, then add salt to taste.

Serve immediately over any kind of pasta, rice, hot baked potatoes, cooked spaghetti squash, baked chicken pieces, baked or BBQ salmon.

Makes about 2 cups (enough to combine with 4 servings of pasta).

If you are planning to freeze excess sauce, leave out the garlic and add when you are ready to use.

For more great recipes check out
 Renee's Cookbooks:
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