One of the teeniest butterflies you’ll see at this time of year is the Spring Azure, with a wing to wing span of less than one inch. Found in meadows, fields, gardens, and along the forest edge, the celestial blue flakes pause to drink nectar from clover, Quaker Ladies, crabapples, dandelions, and whatever tiny floret strikes her fancy.
You can find the Azures flitting about Crabapple blossoms.
Native wildflowers Quaker Ladies, also called Bluets, are an early season source of nectar for Azures.
If you’d like to attract these spring beauties to your garden, plant native flowering dogwood * (Cornus florida), blueberries, and viburnums; all three are caterpillar food plants of the beautiful Spring Azure Butterfly.
The female butterfly curls her abdomen around in a C-shape and deposits eggs amongst the yellow florets of the flowering dogwood. Pink or white, both are equally attractive to the Spring Azure.
Cornus florida ‘rubra’
*Only our native flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, is a caterpillar food plant for Azure butterflies. Don’t bother substituting the non-native Korean Dogwood, it won’t help the pollinators.
Native Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) at Willowdale Estate Butterfly Garden
Currently I am working like mad on design projects, both creating new gardens and organizing existing gardens. Along with butterfly and pollinator gardens, I design many different types of gardens, including fragrant gardens, night gardens, children’s gardens, and seaside gardens. One of my favorite aspects of the design process is creating the horticultural master plan, which is typically done simultaneously after discussing with the client their needs, hopes, and aspirations for their garden, and when working on the plan drawings.
While working on planting plans, I thought our GMG readers would benefit from suggested plantings and illustrated design tips. I started this series awhile back and called it Antennae for Design, and still like that name.
In designing gardens the first step is always creating the framework and trees comprise a major component in establishing the framework, or bones, of a garden. Trees provide a welcome sense of shelter with the shifting light and shadows filtering through the ever-changing ceiling. Fragrance, flowers, the shelter they provide, form, and texture of the leaves are not the only attributes of a tree garden. During the winter months there is the elegant beauty of pure line, the beauty of the branch.
For a multitude of reasons, one of my top choices when planting a tree-garden is our stunning native American dogwood (Cornus florida), both white and pink flowering forms. The fresh beauty of its spring blossoms, horizontal level branches, myriad pollinators attracted to the tiny florets, and the elegance of its bare limbs in winter are just some of the reasons why I love this tree! For a night garden especially, the white flower bracts are especially luminous in the moonlight. And, the American dogwood is also a larval food plant for the diminutive Spring Azure butterfly’s caterpillar!
Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden is available at my publisher’s website, click here.
Winterberry ~ Ilex verticillata
Dogwood Branches ~ Cornus florida
Reminder: Plant your bulbs before the chilly weather is upon us!
These upcoming weeks, until Christmastime, I am nonstop with my business. My interior design client’s homes need readying for the holidays and I am very much straight out with landscape design client’s gardens; planting ephemeral spring magic and putting all to rest for the winter. I am a little bit ahead on posts planned and will do my best to keep up with all, but I may be calling on our Editor-in-Chief to fill in the gaps. I so very much appreciate all of your comments, but if your always kind and much appreciated comments are not answered immediately please do not think that I did not notice. I enjoy reading them and will respond to your comments as soon as possible. Thank you for understanding.
Trunk loads of this…
Willowdale Estate Courtyard ~ A Special Events Venue Unlike Any Other
Butterfly Courtyard with Native Dogwood (Cornus florida)
Thank you so much to everyone who came to the Willowdale Estate Artist Spotlight Garden Tour Monday night. We had an absolutely wonderful turnout. I would especially like to thank Senator Bruce Tarr who, although he could not make it, sent his liaison, Gloucester’s Barry Pett. Mr. Pett is Senator Tarr’s Director of Community Outreach and Constituent Services, and also has a background in architecture. He lives in a historical Queen Anne on Middle Street and was especially appreciative of Willowdale, which is a stunning example of an exquisitely restored Arts and Crafts stone mansion.
Courtyard window box with anemones
Thank you Briar and Sarah for your gracious hospitality and for all that you did to make last night’s event such a singing success. There were gift bags for all who attended and the staff prepared a wonderful array of Briar’s signature cookies, as well as a delicious selection of fruit and cheese, topped with a favorite sparkling wine!
The tulips were in full, glorious bloom, as were many of our native flowering trees and spring ephemerals. Both the Eastern Redbud and Carolina Silverbell were abuzz with myriad species of bees and tiny winged-pollinators.
Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
Lecture Tonight at 7:30 at the Manchester Community Center: Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden.
Cabbage White Butterflies Mating in the Native Flowering Dogwood Foliage
The lecture tonight is based on the book of the same name, which I wrote and illustrated. In it I reveal how to create the framework, a living tapestry of flora, fauna, and fragrance that establishes the soul of the garden. Using a selection of plant material that eliminates the need for pesticides and herbicides, and guided by the plants forms, hues, and horticultural demands, we discuss how to create a succession of blooms from April through November. This presentation is as much about how to visualize your garden, as it is about particular trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, and annuals. Illuminated with photographs, and citing poetry and quotations from Eastern and Western cultural influences, this presentation engages with an artist’s eye while drawing from practical experience.
For a complete lit of my 2013 – 2014 programs and workshops, visit the Programs and Lectures page of my blog.
The Cecropia Moth, or Robin Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) is the largest moth found in North America, with a wingspan of up to six inches. He is perched on the foliage of our beautiful native Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay Magnolia), one of several of the caterpillar’s food plants. You can tell that he is a male because he has large, feathery antennae, or plumos, the better for detecting scent hormones released by the female. This photo was taken in our garden in early June.
The Manchester Community Center is located at 40 Harbor Point, Manchester.