The most satisfying garden I’m working on this summer is in a public space. It’s a “guerilla garden” next to a public school. (Maybe it’s really not a “guerilla garden” anymore, as the school—including the administration—absolutely love that it’s there.) Neighbours on our street started gardening on a strip of land next to the school parking lot about four years ago. We dug up the grass, planting discards from other gardens, whatever was going spare: hostas, orange daylilies, rudbeckia, shasta daisies and coreopsis.
Last year, determined to create a wildlife habitat for Monarch butterflies, after seeing the documentary film, The Flight of the Butterflies, which talks about loss of butterfly habitat, I started planting butterfly and pollinator friendly flowers. Today I watched a tired-looking Monarch butterfly flit about in the garden, and was glad I had something to offer her, and other wildlife:
- tall, pink, swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
- orange, butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
- tall, pink, Joe-Pye weed
- white flowered, chocolate boneset (Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’)
- tall, purple, verbena Bonariensis
- lantana camara
The verbena bonariensis I planted last year, seeded itself and came back this year, in spades, which I was thrilled about. Self-seeding makes annuals behave like perennials, which is a great thing. And you can always rip them out and re-plant them where you want them. Other self-sowers: California poppies, and sweet Alyssum.
Other butterfly-friendly plants we’ve planted:
- goldenrod (we didn’t actually plant it, it just arrived, and we keep it in one spot by weeding it, as it will spread voraciously)
- mint (contained in a tub) (edible herb)
- calendula (edible herb)
- borage (edible herb)
- stonecrop sedum
Bee-friendly plants we’ve planted:
- African blue basil
- stachys hummelo
- ornamental catnip (Nepeta)
- hostas (bees love the flowers)
Our huge, white butterfly bush sadly died over last winter,which was very harsh. But it did leave some seedlings. Next year, we’ll dig them and plant them where we want them, if they survive.