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Thu Jan 17, 2013, 08:28 PM

I'd like to create a bee/butterfly/hummingbird-friendly garden this spring ... but I am a complete

garden novice. Totally ignorant.

I live in the northern Virginia area, about 60 miles west of DC...approaching the mountains of West Virginia.

I have an area about 2' by 5' that has eastern exposure, and then a few smaller, maybe 2'x2' patches that have northern exposure by the front door/porch.

I'd also like to start some veggies, but I'm thinking I'll grow most of those in containers and reserve the areas mentioned above for flowers, and I'd like to plant bushes/flowers/whatever that will last more than one year. We currently rent and I'm hoping we'll be able to move by the fall, but I'd like to leave the garden areas with some permanent, attractive plants to nurture the bees and butterflies and hummingbirds in the area.

See? I'm clueless. My mom used to plop some pansies into pots and call it a garden. I'd really like to learn, but feel a tad bit overwhelmed and not sure where to start. I also don't have a lot of extra money to put into this effort, so any hints at how to be a frugal gardener will be much appreciated.

Thanks!

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Reply I'd like to create a bee/butterfly/hummingbird-friendly garden this spring ... but I am a complete (Original post)
Flaxbee Jan 2013 OP
The Velveteen Ocelot Jan 2013 #1
Scuba Jan 2013 #3
Flaxbee Jan 2013 #5
Curmudgeoness Jan 2013 #2
The Velveteen Ocelot Jan 2013 #4
Flaxbee Jan 2013 #7
Flaxbee Jan 2013 #6
Curmudgeoness Jan 2013 #8
Flaxbee Jan 2013 #11
Curmudgeoness Jan 2013 #15
The Velveteen Ocelot Jan 2013 #9
kurtzapril4 Jan 2013 #10
Flaxbee Jan 2013 #12
mopinko Jan 2013 #13
ginnyinWI Jan 2013 #14
Botany Jan 2013 #16
Flaxbee Mar 2013 #20
bvar22 Jan 2013 #17
Flaxbee Mar 2013 #21
Trascoli Mar 2013 #18
Tanuki Mar 2013 #19
grasswire Mar 2013 #22

Response to Flaxbee (Original post)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 08:36 PM

1. Your state, like most states, has a Master Gardener program

affiliated with the university system. Lots of resources are available from the Master Gardeners and the extension service - look here: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/ I'm a Master Gardener for my state (Minnesota), and we do a lot of educational seminars and programs for the general public. You will be able to get a lot of information from them.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 08:41 PM

3. +1 for the Master Gardners!

Plant menarda. The hummers love it.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 09:38 PM

5. thanks. I'm not 20 miles from our state arboretum, but I just have no spare time to

stop by. Hoping I can do some online learning ...

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Response to Flaxbee (Original post)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 08:41 PM

2. You definitely should have a butterfly bush.

This is what it looks like:

http://www.magicoflife.org/flower_photos/Buddleja_Lochinch.html

Butterflies, hummingbird moths, and bees love mine.


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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 08:46 PM

4. Grow plants from the milkweed family (Asclepias).

They attract butterflies. Mexican Butterfly Flower, Asclepias curassavica, is the host plant for monarch butterflies. In my area they can be grown only as annuals because they are mainly tropical, but I planted some last spring and did manage to attract monarchs. Monarda (bee balm) will attract all kinds of bees.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 09:42 PM

7. OK - same question as above? Do I seek out already-grown/mature plants?

We have several garden stores here (not just the standard Lowe's) ...

What should I grow from "scratch" (seed) and what should I buy already grown?

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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 09:40 PM

6. thanks. Definitely will seek them out

I'm assuming I should buy the bushes already grown and transplant them? Or should I start from scratch (seed)?

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Response to Flaxbee (Reply #6)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 09:57 PM

8. Buy a bush.

It can be a really small one, they grow fast.

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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 10:22 PM

11. good to know.



How many? Just one, and mix it with other bee/butterfly friendly plants?

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Response to Flaxbee (Reply #11)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 07:25 PM

15. You really only need one, and they grow well.

You can cut them way down in the fall and they do well the next summer. I have just one, a neighbor has several. I guess it depends on the space, and you indicated you have little.

And if you want happy bees, I have a plant called Weeping Onion (I wish I knew if it was edible, because it really has spread), and the bees are all over it when it is blooming.....all over it. I was having trouble watering my container plants that were set in the garden around the onions because there was so many bees.

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Response to Flaxbee (Reply #6)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 09:58 PM

9. I usually buy plants rather than seeds.

That's partly because we have a short growing season here. Some plants are also kind of hard to start from seeds. For your butterfly garden I'd suggest going with already-started plants so you can start attracting your critters as early as possible. Also, you will probably have better results if you get your plants from a good garden center rather than a big-box store like Lowe's. Honeysuckle, Columbine and Coral Bells are some other plants that attract hummingbirds.

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Response to Flaxbee (Original post)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 10:21 PM

10. Because of where you live

I would highly recommend that you not plant Buddleia, or Butterfly Bush. I believe in your state it is classified as an invasive species, and I always recommend against planting things with that designation. Asclepius(milkweed)species are great larval and nectar food for monarchs and other creatures, and their blooms smell really nice, to boot. Check out the native plant organisation for your area:

http://www.vnps.org/

Most native plants are really attractive, and more importantly, they provide food and cover for native birds and insects and wildlife. They are also adapted to the area you are living in, as they evolved there.

I grow most of my plants from seed. It's much cheaper that way, then, once they get established, you can divide them. I have mostly native plants, but I edge my beds with colourful lettuces, and I always have some snapdragons and zinnias in pots.

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Response to kurtzapril4 (Reply #10)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 10:33 PM

12. thanks very much. I am a huge fan of xeriscaping (coming from Palm Springs, CA where

every idiot thinks they need a green lawn) and other forms of native planting.

I'm just, as I say, a complete beginner.

Thanks much for the link.

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Response to Flaxbee (Original post)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 11:28 PM

13. i am trying to find time to look into a bee hotel.

there are some crazy natural style ones out there, which attract more species, and there are also ready mades, often very imaginative.
on my winter list of things to stuff my head with.

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Response to Flaxbee (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 12:04 AM

14. Milkweed and Bee Balm

Both are perennials here in Wisconsin so they should do well where you are. Actually milkweed is more of a prairie plant and I have to keep pulling it out so it won't take over. But the butterflies love it. I had to smile at the idea of someone buying a plant.

Bee balm has pretty red or fuschia flowers that are also loved by hummingbirds. Grows about 2 ft. tall and smells very nice. Comes up every year and takes care of itself.


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Response to Flaxbee (Original post)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 12:10 AM

16. I plant and plan butterfly/humming birds gardens for a living

Do not plant a butterfly bush .... non native and invasive use Itea viginica
(sweet spire) instead ...... the white flowers are butterfly magnates and it is a native
shrub .... it likes wet feet

how many hours per day of sunlight do you get in the area you want to
plant? and at what time of day do you get the sun? can you prune or
cut down some brush in order to get more sunlight?

If you have room a Hop tree is nice because it helps the swallowtail butterflies

new england aster is a hit w/monarch butterflies

swamp milkweed (wet feet ..... like by a down spout) and w/ enough sun
it is a host for the monarch butterfly

although not native a hanging basket w/ lantana will bring in humming birds

trumpet vine .... if you have the room is a great native

beardtongue penstemon and false indigo rock too

purple coneflower is a good one too.

some of the native goldenrods are good too

http://www.vnps.org/ contact this group for more info






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Response to Botany (Reply #16)

Thu Mar 21, 2013, 11:56 PM

20. what a wonderful way to make a living.

thanks very much, Botany. Very appreciated! I don't have a lot of room, just maybe three 2'x2' areas that are north-facing, maybe north-west-ish, and then an area that's probably 2'x4' that's east-facing.

Plus, containers on the porch that also faces north.

So I don't have much to work with, but I'd like to use the space to its best advantage.

And I'm just itching to get started - I'll buy some plants, or seeds, or both - whatever's best....

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Response to Flaxbee (Original post)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 02:04 PM

17. Hi.

We moved to the Ouachita Mountains of West Arkansas in 2006,
and started growing veggies and Keeping Honey Bees.

We were surprised that our bees couldn't care less about most of our Veggies,
especially the nightshades (Tomatoes, Peppers, Potatoes, etc.)

In the Spring, the Bees have plenty of forage with Fruit Trees, wild flowers, and wild Black Berries, so much so that it is difficult to attract them to particular areas.

In mid Summer, clover and Spirea gets their attention.

Mid to Late Summer: Basil, Sage, and some late ornamentals.
They seem particularly fond of Blooming (bolted) Basil,
and we are happy to let ours Go-to-Seed for the Bees.

The point is that the timing of the blooms is important,
and planning a Bee/Butterfly Garden should take that into account.

We are guilty of planting Butterfly Bushes.
I hadn't heard that they are invasive, but upon checking,
that appears to be the truth.
Its a shame because ours bloom well into late Summer when Bee Forage becomes difficult, and are a favorite of the Bees and Butterflies.

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Response to bvar22 (Reply #17)

Thu Mar 21, 2013, 11:57 PM

21. hey bvar22, how are things?

I first "met" you when you posted about Blossom, your fawn ...

I guess I'll avoid butterfly bushes, too...

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Response to Flaxbee (Original post)

Fri Mar 1, 2013, 07:20 PM

18. I'm a novice too

 

The owners before me had Hostas plants and I noticed the bees and humming birds loved them. Last late spring I put up a humming bird feeder next to the hostas, before I had time to fill it with sugar water (in a matter of minutes), there was a hummingbird perched on top of the empty feeder! I couldn't believe it. They are a joy to watch.

I need to edit: The hostas flowers were in full bloom, I think it was late spring, early summer. The humming birds new the flowers were there, I guess the hummingbirds new what the feeder was too. It was pretty cool though.

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Response to Flaxbee (Original post)

Sun Mar 3, 2013, 08:43 AM

19. Flaxbee, I grew up in West Virginia and we had several

Rose of Sharon (hibiscus syriacus) shrubs on our property. The hummingbirds loved them! Even though ours grew in the ground, you could grow them in a container.

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Response to Flaxbee (Original post)

Fri Mar 29, 2013, 07:12 PM

22. under my picture window is a perennial that looks like BIG forget-me-nots

The plants grow several feet tall and are loaded with those beautiful blue blossoms and are beloved by the bees and butterflies. All summer we have this show -- the beautiful blue blossoms, the busy busy bees.

I don't know the name of this plant.

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