Thursday, May 13, 2010

Butterfly garden

My most pleasant memories of childhood were those of a nearby garden with lots of beautiful flowers and butterflies flitting around. 1980's in Delhi used to be the good old days of flowers, parks and less crowd; a fictional dream in the nowadays urban life. The pleasant dream, which it was to be in such gardens, got drowned in the sea of urban chaos. But getting posted in a small city with a big house was an opportunity to live up that dream again. I started planting flowers without any conscious attention towards attracting butterflies. Gradually, as the garden evolved, so did the kind of life forms visiting it. It was this year, my sixth with the house and its garden, that I got a whole lot of butterflies gracing the place. Watching these magically beautiful insects, I felt like reliving my childhood dream. Inspired, I thought about consciously making the place more butterfly friendly. I surfed the net for making an ideal butterfly garden but the information was either woefully inadequate or of places having a very different flora and climate from mine. So, it was by sheer chance that I got some of the right kind of flowers for butterflies and felt like sharing my experience here: The first and foremost requirement for a butterfly garden has to be the plants which attract them. Lantana being the universal favorite, tops my list! Pentas, a shrub with small star like flowers, too attracts a number of butterflies to the garden. Single petaled Dahlias were an interesting package this spring. They seemed to hold a very special place in the butterfly heart, as I could find two, three, and at times even four butterflies sitting together on a Dahlia rosette! And mind you, the big gorgeous double Dahlias had no takers as far as butterflies are concerned!! Helichrysum blooms too were always surrounded by butterflies and this rare Silverline butterfly visited this garden only once and had its eyes set exclusively on the paper like bloom, leaving aside fancy ones like Roses and Amaryllis. Verbenas, acting as a perfect host, too had groups of butterflies looming around for nectar Sunflower and Gaillardias, the summer annuals, welcome the butterflies even in scorching summer months Buddha belly plant whose virtues I have discussed before also, brings butterflies to my garden almost throughout the year Then there are those plants on whose leaves caterpillars thrive. There are hundreds of these horrible looking butterfly precursors gnawing away greedily on the leaves of plants they set eyes upon. These include Amaryllis, Lemon,Radish and host of others, a classic case of beasts molting into beauties. These things have voracious appetite. They reduced the leaves of a full lemon plant to skeleton in a matter of day! Another point that came across for a butterfly garden was an absolutely zero use of insecticides. Last year too I had the same flowers but the butterflies were absent. This year I decided not to use any insecticides, mainly because of the horrible things I had read about them. An unforeseen bonus was the sudden increase in the number of butterflies, though I had to tolerate some extra, nasty, mosquito bites.

36 comments:

Kiki said...

Gorgeous post! Wonderful to read...and such a beautiful tribute to butterfly!! Woah..I love the first one of the butterfly... it could be wall art or a poster..it is so beautiful...stellar! they are all beauties..thankyou for sharing these magnificent wonders of your garden!! Lucky!
Have a happy day!
Kiki~

Julie said...

What a beautiful and informative post! We have been seeing an increase here in the last month or so of different butterlies...supher, monarch and the large one called Zebra Swallowtail.

Nicole said...

What beautiful pictures of butterflies! I really like those dahlias. I recently got a Buddha belly plant from Helen at my rustic Bajan garden and its growing fast!

Window On The Prairie said...

Wonderful pics. You must have planted all the butterfly's favorites.

College Gardener said...

The butterflies are truly beautiful and your garden looks lovely! I wish more people were as considerate as you in your gardening practices so as to allow for their gardens to be homes and habitats for such beautiful wildlife.

islandgal246 said...

Butterflies are attracted to open faced and brightly coloured flowers especially reds. The open faced flowers are daisy shaped as this allows them to perch on the petals to feed nectar. The hybrids will not attract them since they do not produce much nectar. Many butterflies larval host plants are usually wild plants and a few cultivated species. Lepidoptery is a fascinating part of entomolgy. Many countries have opened butterfly houses as an attraction. Can you imagine a butterfly landing on your nose? It is a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by these jewels of the garden. Thanks for showing us your butterflies Doc! Florida gardening sites will have several articles on butterfly gardening.

Emma said...

Absolutely gorgeous entry! I grew up in Delhi in the 1980s and have the most amazing memories of walking through Lodi Gardens with my Ayah chasing butterflies! Emma

Tyra i Vaxholm said...

How wonderful (as always) it is to join you in your India garden. It is someting special with a garden that include both flora and fauna, without the animals something is really missing...

surabhi said...

it's nice to see someone so concern abt the beauty around :)
well need ur help i guess. i just bought a 1 bhk in ghaziabad n will be shifting in sug-sep.I want to make it a green lovely home, suggestion plz wat kind of plants will take less space(mud) but more of green with the hits of beautiful reds n pinks :)
i can imagine it ;)

dining room tables said...

Your garden is so pretty! I like to my garden to have butterflies! They are s pretty and it also helps.

radha said...

Such a pretty garden. Why would butterflies not come by? Very nice pictures. The lack of insectides must have been a major factor.

Green thumb said...

KIKI- All the effort seems worthwhile when someone showers praise like this.

Julie - I am glad that you found the post informative. I guess, besides the changes I brought about in the garden, a global increase in number of butterflies may be the reason for their sudden spurt.

Nicole - I am sure the butterflies would have got the news about your Buddha belly plant. It is one of my favorite plants, reminding me of the 'Laughing Buddha'.

Window On The Prairie - welcome to indiagarden. You have a beautiful blog. I couldn't take my eyes of the photographs of the beautiful quaint countryside.

College Gardener - Thanks for the encouraging words. Me and the garden have a long way to go if they are to do any justice to your kind words.

Islandgal - That was such a useful information so concisely packed. We may have designed hybrids to look more beautiful than the wild flowers, but definitely, there are few takers for their beauty in the extra human living world.

Emma - Wonderful, that you can relate to the post. 80's was teh right time to be in Delhi...no longer I guess.

Tyra - it is always a pleasure to receive comment from someone as loving and gentle as you.

Surabhi - thanks for the visit. I will get back to you with my opinion soon.

dining room tables - Thanks for the visit.

Radha - Thank you dear! that was so sweet of you.

FlowerLady said...

What lovely gardens you have, and they have blessed you with pleasant memories and the wonderful flying flowers, butterflies.

Enjoy all that beauty that surrounds you in your urban setting.

FlowerLady

lotusleaf said...

Beautiful butterflies! Thanks for the tip about the butterfly attractors:-)

Green thumb said...

FlowerLady - Thanks and welcome to indiagarden. I believe that is all there to life; to be surrounded by nature and to have time to enjoy all that.

lotusleaf - Thanks dear lotusleaf. I am sure there would be many more of these lovely insects in Bangalore.

Chandramouli S said...

I long for butterflies in my garden space too and I'm almost drooling over the monitor! What wonderful colors, no wonder the butterflies are having great fun!

Matron said...

What a wonderful post! Even Matron has just a few flowers (but don't tell anyone..) to attract pollinating insects into my veggie and fruit garden. It is lovely to see the different species in different countries.

Green thumb said...

Chandramouli S - Hi! Why don't you plant some of these flowers, then you can go on drooling freely in your garden.

Matron - Of course, I won't tell anyone. But thanks for letting me know. See, even Matron couldn't say no to the lure of flowers, be it for the benefit of her veggies and fruits only:-)

varsha said...

what are the practical alternatives you have successfully used in place of insecticides Green thumb?Especially as there is a major white ant infestation in Gwalior?

Green thumb said...

Varsha - Hi! I tried neem extract but it didn't help much. Will be trying turmeric next, as I read somewhere that turmeric spread at the base of infested plants is effective.

joven said...

hi, you have nice blog.. u can view also mine..http://akoniwares.blogspot.com

Randy Emmitt said...

Hey my first visit here, how have I missed this blog I don't know. We have two of the butterflies you have in our garden the painted Lady and Cabbage White. I just loved the Silverline awesome!

WE just Saturday had our 80th butterfly species in our garden a Zebra Swallowtail. Looking over local data I think I have got all that should be in our garden, it took 13 years.

Sunita said...

GT, where are you? I've really missed your lovely posts.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your winged flowers :)
And I absolutely endorse your stand on no-pesticides! Way to go!

freerangegirl said...

My first visit to your blog and I will be back for more - what a stunning garden you have - I am amazed by the butterflies - thankyou for sharing.

Tracie said...

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Rajee Sood said...

Hi,
I wonder if you remember me ... well never the less ... loved the butterfly post of yours ... reminded me of the lady I visited in Goa ... she too is into creating one of the most beautiful butterfly park on land that all residents got together and bought and it was facinating ... in case you are looking for any more about butterfly gardens do let me know ... I think I do have her on my facebook. Love your Garden it so takes me back to chilhood ...lovely days of big gardens and gigantic lawns ... fruit gardens... vegetable gardens ... we even had our dads fav,. the poinsettia garden ... thanks your garden always brings back lovely memories.

My Chutney Garden said...

Wonderful post full of information. I am just starting my garden again after a major renovation and I am trying to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Thanks for the pics which were beautiful.

Arati said...

amazing pictures. i love the flowers and the butterflies!

Arati said...

you must try growing some okra (lady's finger) i've found that it brings in hordes of the common lime butterfly (http://ringsofsilverpv.blogspot.com/2009/08/common-lime-party.html)

mexican heather is another butterfly puller..

Carol said...

Gosh! Gorgeous butterfly photos! Here is to the end of insecticides! Love your cater shot too. Quite late comment on this lovely post! Hope you are doing well. ;>)

Kendra said...

Great compilation of posts here at your blog! I have only recently discovered it, but I plan to be re-visiting it for more!

Tanya Boracay said...

Lovely butterfly garden.

Just like to share with you a famous quote...

"The voice of parents is the voice of gods, for to their children they are heaven's lieutenants. " -- Shakespeare

You can get more famous quotes at http://quotelandia.com

Color Wings Butterfly Gardening Consultancy said...

nice post ....... and a nice try ... I'm also doing the same from last 18months ... i've got 40 unique species in my garden ..... i've a very small garden ... u can see the photos at .....

http://www.flickr.com/photos/somnathpaldas2


Thanks & Regards,

Somnath Pal Das

** To create a “Butterfly Garden” at your premises , pls contact us.



Happy Clicking:-

http://www.flickr.com/photos/somnathpaldas2

http://www.orkut.co.in/Main#Community?cmm=97250956

http://greencamp.in/2010/12/life-cycle-of-common-mormon-butterfly-video/
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Unknown said...

Your blog is too good, i am totally impressed by your pics, especially the Hyacinths. sir at which time of the year they should be planted and from where to get these bulbs? ( I live in New Delhi)
Sir Please suggest what all flowers i can plant in this season?
And also suggest some all season flowering plants...
Thank you

nima said...

wow...that's an awesome effort....i love your butterfly garden...i'm sure your blog is going to be an inspiration for many.

sha said...

Nice blog and beautiful garden, keep up the good work! I am planning to have a butterfly garden too as soon as I move back to India, the current one had lots of visitors last year but I want to plant more flowers this year.

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