Start A Butterfly Garden!
Xanthippe, I love Peacocks! Here in Japan they are very rare and only live in high elevation meadows. We have to go south to the Nagano Alps (where they once had the winter olympics) to see them.
We have two species of aquilegia (also known as Columbine in the U.S.) in Japan. One is blue and the other is a pale yellow.I planted a hybrid last year in a shady area, but the butterflies here showed no interest. Since butterflies are warmed by the sun, they usually visit flowers where there is good sunlight and avoid flowers in the shade.
Astrantia looks like a lovely flower for butterflies, although I have never seen this flower in Asia or North America. I have never seen Teasels either, but they would look lovely in any natural setting.. Teasels remind of Thistles which are absolutely adored by butterflies and bees.
I planted a bunch of false nettle in my garden to attract the Red Admirals. Their caterpillars are easy to find because they weave together the leaves to make a tent.
Kaik, thanks for the tip about the chaste tree. I planted one in my garden last year and the Papilio xuthus and Papilio Machaon swallowtail butterflies love its flowers!
Sorry to here about the Gardenias. Their fragrant smell is irreplaceable.
It seems to be a common theme that several kinds of bees, including honey bees, are disappearing at an alarming rate all over the world. Here in Japan the local specie of honey bee is vanishing, so they tried to replace it with the western honeybee only to find that the western honeybee has no defense against the largest hornet in the world (Vespa Mandarinia) which quickly overwhelms and wipes out entire nests in minutes. The Japanese giant hornet is nasty! It can get up to 6 centimeters in length and one sting can send a person into paralytic shock. Get stung twice by one of these buggers and you're toast. Thankfully they aren't usually aggressive toward humans. We do have to avoid wearing brown or black clothing while in the woods and mountains in the fall, because they will mistake us for their natural enemies (bears) and sting us if we get to close to their nests.
I have always wanted to do this Bonsai. I would love to build a couple of Butterfly Houses one day. There are some neat designs on the web. Our butterflies and bees are essential pollinators. Without them, we may not have any food.
Heaven, I've wanted a butterfly house myself, but no one sells them out here. It's fiercely debated on the butterfly forums as to whether they actually work or not, but either way, they look cool and add a fun dimension to the garden. Also they make a neat project to work on with the kids. Those that have seen butterflies overwinter in their butterfly house claim that it should be kept in an area sheltered from the cold winter winds (such as at the base of a tree with low branches).
If you add one to your garden, let me know if it works!
Do you know if these butterfly nest work? I know my neighbor got bumblebee nest, but they decided to live in my shed and her hives are empty. They build a nest just above the ground, and when I am in the shed, I could hear them "playing a concert". One issue with loss of bees are people who destroying their nests because they are afraid to get stung. I have a nest of yellow jacket bees, and for all these years I was never stung.
Vitex or chaste tree is considered invasive in Texas. I like the chaste trees I seen them all over southern Europe, but I do not see many of them around in my neighborhood in USA. I planted chaste tree, and it grows very fast and attracts a lot of butterflies and bumblebees. I do not have issue to be self-seeding. On the other hand, hibiscus I have is very invasive, I would like to cut it down, but my spouse is against it. So I tolerate it on the backyard.
I noticed butterflies are also attracted to my yarrows, and butterfly milkweed. I have also three summersweet shrubs Ruby Spice. They are planted on the side of the house which gets sun whole day and plus they are dense enough to create privacy from neighbor. One advantage of summersweet is that they bloom in peak of the summer heat till September, when most shrubs except myrtle are done with blooming. They also attract bees and butterflies. My yellow jacket moved to my backyard year after I plant these, and they have nest just two three feet from them.
I had a vegetable garden a couple of years back and it attracted Monarch butterflies, which are rare, as well as hummingbirds and adorable looking lady bugs.
Summersweet Ruby Spice from backyard. They are also very pleasantly fragrant and in the fall the leaves turn yellow gold.
Kaik, I knew I had seen the Ruby Spice before during my in meanderings in the mountains. Here in Japan we have this plant in tree form. It's called "Ryoubu". I have always wanted this tree in my garden because all the critters flock to it's sweet smelling flowers, but it doesn't start to flower until it is a mature tree towering over everything. I had no idea there was a shrub form that grew in North America! I checked online and they sell it here as "Amerika-ryoubu". It also has a beautiful pink hybrid called "pink spire". Thanks for the valuable information!
I also finally found butterfly weed here at a nursery for the first time. It is great for attracting monarchs as both a host plant and a nectar plant.There is a tropical butterfly that uses the milkweed as a host plant. Often times a late summer typhoon will scoop up tropical butterflies from Taiwan and then dump them on Japan where they survive till the frost. Hopefully I can get a few to come to my garden.
Are you planning to plant in a vegetable garden this year? If you add some milkweed around your garden you will increase the possibility of seeing monarchs coming to your garden exponentially.
Bonsai (great thread) & VI ...we have Monarchs here, too, and they come for the milkweed. : ))
I can't start a garden, but do feed the birds.
Bluejays love their peanuts - they will cache them for later, and sometimes open and eat now. I have one who will take from my hand.
Crows love scraps - that piece of fat you cut off the roast? Yum. Or the turkey carcass? They will carry it off and pick it clean. They also make caches.
Europeans Starlings eat grubs and worms, but cat food will help them through the winter (it's high enough in protein). They are mimics, and will learn your 'whistle'. Have heard one who calls like the robin, and another who does a blue jay - they are hilarious!
Suet in the winter for the chickadees and robins, other songbirds that stay over the winter. We have a pair of woodpeckers that visit occasionally to feed on insects in the rotten branches. They have a nest in the back of the property.