Mistakes: Butterfly Capers

If you look closely, you can see several monarchs in this butterfly bush in our garden.
Butterfly bushes are touted as good plants to draw pollinators, but there are better, more balanced alternatives.

I am not sure you would call it a big mistake, but upon attending the Geography of Hope seminar at the native plant demonstration garden of Judith Larner Lowry in Bolinas last month, I learned that besides possibly becoming invasive, these butterfly bushes are a little like junk food. Yes, they are beautiful and provide nectar, but butterfly bushes are not host plants. Host plants are places the butterflies lay their eggs. They provide food for the larva when they hatch.

Get this: You want insects eating your plants!  Not all of the plants, of course, but the right amount. Again, you want balance. Ornamentals have been bred to not attract plant-eating insects. A living system of plants and beneficial insects is a healthy system. Beauty takes on another dimension.

It’s another reason to use native plants in our landscaping.

Another drought tolerant but non-native plant in our garden. Will this old, rather battered monarch find a place to lay her eggs—before it is too late?

Take a Biodynamic tour at our Open House, June 23, 2012. For details, see Harms Vineyards and Lavender Fields Open House.