July 22, 2008

Return of the Monarch Butterflies

Having a garden that is a certified Monarch Waystation, I'm always on the lookout for the return of the Monarch butterflies. Back in early June, there were a few around for about a week. I had not seen any again until this morning. I was out in my garden to try to snap more hummingbird photos but was delighted to see a Monarch. I followed the Monarch around the garden to see what flowers were of interest. This is the time when the population here increases. I hope to see eggs and caterpillars on the many host plants of asclepias tuberosa and asclepias incarnata that are planted in my garden for the Monarchs.

The first photo was taken as the Monarch landed on a buddleia (appropriately dubbed "butterfly bush"). We have about 23 buddleia throughout the garden to serve as nectar plants. The buddleia are loved by butterflies, bees and even the hummingbirds.

The Monarch flitted over these gaillardia (now in the 2nd bloom of the summer) and moved on in search of more nectar.

The Monarch quickly checked out these echinacea 'Ruby Star' and the garden phlox 'Robert Poore' and flitted away before I could get a photo.

I planted almost two flats of tithonia 'Fiesta del Sol', an annual that is reported to be a favorite source of nectar for Monarchs. The orange blossoms are just now really cranking up in the butterfly garden. A bit of nepeta 'Walkers Low' is spilling over onto this orange tithonia. Nepeta is a perennial. I also have rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' in the butterfly garden.

Verbena 'Homestead', a low-growing purple perennial groundcover is also in a 2nd bloom in the butterfly garden.

The morning sun spills through the wings of the Monarch as it uses agastache 'Blue Fortune' as a nectar plant. This perennial was the most favored by this Monarch this morning. All of the photos taken from this point are of the Monarch on various clumps of 'Blue Fortune' that is scattered throughout my outer garden. It's a tall perennial that I planted last year.

The agastache 'Salmon and Pink' that is behind this 'Blue Fortune' is a hummingbird favorite. I also have plenty of this agastache throughout the butterfly garden and have just planted a start of it in the front outer garden. Another wonderful perennial that attracts butterflies, bees and hummingbirds while blooming almost all summer until frost.

This photo of agastache 'Blue Fortune' shows the color a bit better. I took this photo on a previous morning when it was cloudy. It's set against a miscanthus 'Cosmopolitan'.

When the Monarchs are ready to lay eggs, I have plenty of ascelpias in the garden to serve as host plants:

The butterfly garden...and all the other gardens...are ready for more Monarchs. I'll continue to post updates on the Monarch activity.

Happy Gardening!
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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