At the Children’s Butterfly Garden of a Saratoga County Elementary School

This week I had the privilege of designing a butterfly garden at a Saratoga County Elementary School. The kids were lots of fun to work with, and they were so excited to learn about habitat gardening and the different species of native plants we used. Working with groups of children to develop habitat gardens for butterflies, songbirds, pollinators and hummingbirds is the highlight of a career in eco-friendly landscape design.

20140522-115810.jpg We talked a lot about the nature of butterfly’s lifecycles, how caterpillars need native host plants to live and that they eat the leaves of these plants. We planted some Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) for the Monarch butterflies to eat, shown in the photo above. There was also a woodland garden raised bed area we planted together.

Here is a complete list of all the plants we used and their known useful characteristics in a habitat garden:

1 Sweet Shrub (Calycanthus floridus) Flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies with nectar.
1 Viola pubescens. Butterfly host plant for the Fritillary butterfly family.
1 New England Aster. Larval host for the Pearl Crescent butterfly. Late purple blooms feed migrating Monarchs with rich nectar.
3 Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). Host plant for Monarch butterflies.
1 Geranium maculatum. Generates a lot of pollen and nectar for native bees in shady spots.
3 Golden Alexander (Zizea aurea). Black Swallowtail host plant and early source of pollen for native bees.
3 Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica). Great nectar source for hummingbirds and butterflies.
1 Spicebush (Lindera benzoin). Host plant for the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly.
1 Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis). Excellent nectar source for hummingbirds and butterflies.
1 Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis). Host plant for the Columbine Duskwing.
1 Alium cernuum. Early color and nectar for butterflies.
1 Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis). Woodland groundcover with nectar for bees.
1 Beebalm (Monarda fitulosa) Nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies.
1 Blazing Star (Liatris spicata) Nectar plant for butterflies and hummingbirds.
1 Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculata). Excellent source of nectar for butterflies and pollinators.
1 Trillium grandiflora. Lovely endangered woodland plant.
1 Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa). Host plant for the Spring Azure butterfly.
1 Native Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium reptans). Woodland plant source of nectar for butterflies.