Need Help Building a Butterfly Education & Exploration Site

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Hi everyone!

I am asking for help. I want to build a Butterfly Education and Exploration Site, here at the farm. I have been reading the sticky information, and know that it's not going to get off the ground this year.

I have a place in mind here on the farm, for the butterflies to go. It is partly sloped, and mostly flat. It is located on the oxbow of our dry creek. (Creek might flow if it actually rains out here.)

I am trying to work on the infrastucture, i.e. planning pathways, water features, and the planters where I'll be placing pots of nectar and host plants. Yes, I'm keeping them in pots so they can be changed out.
Because of our location, I will also need to have misters in some areas to cool the visitors off. I am planning on going solar with all the pumps needed, and whatever lighting I put in.

I am currently raising gulf fritillary's and hope to attract Monarchs. I have been planting various kinds of Milkweed, but hope to have a succession of native plants that will provide host plants throughout the spring, summer and fall.

There are a lot of native plants already growing in the area, and we plan on working around them, but we want to attract more native butterflys, and feel the native plants are better for them. Although, my GF have decided that they won't eat the other passiflora's, just the Lady Margaret. Go figure.

I am working on a cat cage, which I hope to have completed this weekend.

I know that I'm not thinking of everything, which is why I decided to ask for help, once again. I know that if anyone can help me with this project it is the gardeners here at DG.

Walk In Beauty~

Magnolia, TX(Zone 9a)

An awesome project! My contribution is much less, but it is expanding every year with more areas, and I am seeing more bf all the time- A giant black monarch flew by me yesterday teasing me, and I know the fern leaf dill looks like rags, chuckle, but it is a great plant for under other flowers and the brilliant zinnias attract the bf to the dill underneath. Mine also tend to choose their favorites - they ignore the parsley and fennel, but its there.

Colima, Mexico(Zone 11)

I think if you read the forum regularly, you will get lots of good ideas. Already there is an untold wealth of information in forums, garden journals, etc. etc. You can search the DG site for anything you might be interested in and find good ideas from knowledgeable people. It is what this forum is all about and the input goes back many years.

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Thank you kittriana and vitrsa.

I will continue to read what others post, and I've already learned a lot.

Kittriana, how big is your butterfly garden? I started growing butterfly nectar plants several years ago assisted by a lot of gardeners here at DG. More recently I have started growing butterfly host plants. Once again generous gardeners donated seeds and plants.

Now I want to share what I've learned with others. Especially the children in our area.

I think I'll post some photos of the area I plan on turning into the the education site.

I might be over thinking this project, but it is very near and dear to my heart. I want to make it easy to care for the butterflies, and their host and nectar plants. I want to make it accessible for people will disabilities. Which is also very important to me.

I fell in love with the gulf frittilaries that frequent my garden. I get lots of butterflies that visit the farm. Not that I can get close enough to see them, to identify them in the wild, but by growing the plants I figure I'm increasing the opportunities. We get the occasional Monarch, and I'm hoping to entice more to visit by planting milkweeds. I have only seen one so far this year. I do get a lot of the native California butterflies. Sulphur's and swallowtails, lots of white ones, and the ones DH calls the Buckwheat Blue. We have lots of buckwheat. We have a lot of native plants. I've been working on reintroducing the native wildflowers, and the butterflies seem to fit in well with that.

I'll post some photos of the site tomorrow, and perhaps upon seeing the photos you can see what I have to work with and around.


Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

I found this great site today called:
This is great . . . you can put in your area and they tell you what plants, animals, insects, fungus and mold lives in your neighborhood. It gives you all the names of all the things you'd like to know the names of. I found out that the nasty yellow stuff growing on my county wood chips is called "dog vomit mold". What's really funny here is that when I saw this stuff I wondered is this deer vomit? Did they get sick from eating my milkweed plants? It's late, I think I must be running a fever, excuse me.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 9a)

Welll, They named it accurately at least...mine is simply flowerbeds, and I sneak in host plants as fill. You guys are in horrid drouth conditions- I haven't looked for Menifee, but I am sure I have been there- we were also, and the huge fires several years ago that were in these areas got within a mile of the house. Many areas were simply dozed and returned to grassland so many trees died. Mine isn't public, and my daughter suffers the plants I plant in silence since the monarchs population and routes are changing to adapt to the food sources available as they travel- and it delights her to see the different butterflies as well. I have a few native seeds to add to landscape areas I brought back with me- horsemint and red gaillardia, to grow alongside the lance leaf coreopsis. The dew is still up, I keep having to clear lens, chuckle, the tomato is recovering from deer munching and the fernleaf dill I relocated to an area the cats have under the dogwood tree. I will return, am still on slug and bug patrol while I can still take pictures..

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Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Hey Dee, thanks for sharing that site. I'm hoping it will help me find and identify some of my mystery plants. I'm already collecting seed.
I am feeling less pressure on my sinuses, and am over the fever. I hope that you well soon. Hope we both didn't get sick at the RU. Although, DH is fine. Feel better okay?

Kittriana, yep, it's really dry. We had to take out about 100 Monterrey Pines today because of that Pine Beetle. Hopefully, it'll stop the infestation from getting worse. Time to give them supplemental water. Poor trees get stressed in this drought, and the insects take advantage of it.

Zone 8b would be nice, but I thought TX was in a drought too? Then again TX is a big state and you might be in one of those areas with different climate from the surrounding regions.

Lovely photos. Is that first one a scarlet naked lady (amaryllis?). It sure is pretty. I have some pink Naked Lady plants I inherited from DH's grandmother. I don't know where she got them, but they were the only pretty thing I saw when I first moved here. Still have them. Also have some crinum, which have a paler pink flower much like the Amaryllis. Are those blooming right now? Mine won't bloom until July-August.

Snail and slug patrol. You know, my chickens love 'em. I don't like to use poison in my garden, and it's so much easier to just pick them snails up and toss 'em to the chickens.
Slugs are a little harder. I usually scrape them off whatever they are stuck to, and into a container that I take into the chickens. Like I said they love 'em. Extra protein!

I found some photos to show you the area where I want to put the BEES (Butterfly Education & Exploration Site). Yep, that's what I'm going to call it since DH is a Beekeeper, the acronym works.

First photo is taken from the picnic area, looking towards the future BEES. The Oak tree in the background is known around here as Grandfather Oak. This area is the former site of a Tipi Village that we had set up. The Tipi's are long gone, and the area has been partially cleared. I'm leaving the cleared area alone for now, and selectively clearing out the area between the elderberry trees and the dry creek. It will be bounded on the other two sides by the slope and the pathway. Sorry this photo doesn't really show all of these elements, but it helps me to clarify it in my mind to write it all down.

The second photo is of the slope behind the area I want to develop. You can see the rocks in this photo in the previous photo in the upper right corner, which helps you orient to the site.

Third photo, this old bridge will lead to an entrance to the BEES. The pathway goes off the left at the end of the bridge.

Fourth photo, looking over the bridge railing you can see one of the elderberries I want to keep for the site. It also holds my natural bench seat. A partially fallen branch.

In this last photo, the wind broke off this tree which you can also see in the third photo. Looks like it took out part of the railing when it fell. Sigh.

DH wants to take this tree out, but I want it to stay. Snags are important perches for many birds. My Dad's favorite bird the blue jay, can often be seen perching at the top of this snag. The base of the tree is still alive, and I think at some point we will have to trim it, but for now, I want to let it be. Except for the stuff that is currently dead and blocking the bridge, that is.

Anyway, it's a beautiful, sheltered and sunny spot. While I do have water available out there, I do not have electricity, and am planning on using solar with a battery backup for my power needs.

I need to go work on my cat cage. I saw a couple of GF's flittering around out there this morning, and I know that means more caterpillars are on their way. :-)

I'll be taking more photos to post on this thread, and once again I do welcome everyone's comments.


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Magnolia, TX(Zone 9a)

I dont have any naked ladies that I know of, the red is usually rose colored, every year it surprises me with a different shade of rose, named Ellen Bosanquets. Is the tree thats down a cottonwood by any chance? Hole in the Rock, Utah same place, diff season... cottonwoods tend to be rotten as pines for keeping around-esp if you have allergies. We have two types of pine beetle, but ours will eat the pines then start on whatever wood they find-even the house, sigh. Well, its blocking my picture loads..

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Magnolia, TX(Zone 9a)

Under the dogwood tree, flat stepstones, and bullrock to allow rainwater to the tree, salvia and other Tx natives in a split driveway

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Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Gosh, I sure love Utah's red rocks, no matter what season. Really nice photos. :-)

Sadly, we don't have cottonwood trees here. They need a lot more water than we currently have.

I did however find a skeleton of one when we first came out here in the 1980's. I have heard from DH's relatives that our Sweetwater Creek used to run year round. Once I even found crawdads out there. I keep hoping it will rain consistently enough for the creek to flow clear again. Then we'd be looking like the second photo you posted.

I'll have to look for the Ellen Bosanquete Amaryllis it's quite lovely. I also like your yard. Out in the country, no concrete in sight. :-)

I also noticed that unless it was cloudy when you took the photo, you have lots of shade. I've been working for years to get shade. Wasn't much when I moved out here. A couple of walnut trees, some elderberries, and the California Live Oaks. Everything else we planted or it volunteered. I only recall planting one pomegranite, and now they are sprouting up all over.

I found some more photos to share.

This first one is of the snag as seen from the slope with Grandfather Oak behind us.

Same slope just closer to Grandfather Oak. I'm not doing anything with this part of the slope. I really don't want people climbing around back there, so I'm going to leave the cactus in place. While I'm not all that fond of cactus spines, I do love their flowers.

Third one is of the flowers on those cacti. I told you they are pretty, and the bees love 'em.

Fourth photo is of my favorite bench elderberry. :-) I sit there and dream of how to place the planters, and where I'd like the other features to go.

Lastly a view from the elderberry bench tree looking over the mostly flat area I have to work with.

I was looking for photos of my garden here by the house, and I haven't taken photos of the whole thing for awhile, and I'm not sure if I can get the whole thing into one photo, but I guess I should try. :-)


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Magnolia, TX(Zone 9a)

This is the Houston area, we use crinums to hold the sand and water, I will send you some of the Bosanquets this winter if you send me a d-mail with address, -and I can dig these up- the older ones have bulbs the size of soccer balls and are very deep. Humidity here in the summer is normally 70% to 96% til winter. the 2 rose colors are the same as the one above, the white with pink stripe is another variety. Lots of trees- we remove pines to keep them from falling on the house during storms since oak and pines fall over when the rain soaks the earth and it turns to quicksand.
Your cacti are very valuable assets for your area- and they dont upset the natural balance by being out of their areas. Our prickly pear towers get so large that occasionally we take them to the ground and back they come with circles of blooms in the spring. Fairy circles of prickly pear instead of mushrooms, chuckle.

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Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Hey kitt, I'll send you a email with my address. Thank you very much.
My Dad used to live in Houston, and my brother still lives nearby. Pretty much anything you can grow, I can grow. Some things have to be babied a bit, but I have been able to grow most of the same plants that Dad had.
Haven't had a chance to get the photos of my badly garden posted yet. I'll get it done in the morning.

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Good bog! I just read my last post, which is a good example of what using a kindle for your posting will do.
Okay, I'm back with photos of my garden at home. I realize that it's broken up into sections, but such is a gardeners life. :-)
1. Okay the first photo here is of the area in front of the trees. I've been planting lantana in there. Even though it's in full shade in the morning, it's in full sun in the afternoons, so the lantana thrives here. There is also a fake creek/planter bed in the front, but my dogs keep killing some of the flowers in the center there. She's an old dog, so she's allowed more latitude.
2. This is a photo of the raised planter DH helped me to build. I have planted butterfly host plants and some nectar plants in there too.
3. This is part of my front yard. I was given the HoneyBird Tree (tacoma stans) several years ago. I planted many of the plants I was given by friends of Dad in this area. :-)
4. This area is frequented by both hummers and butterflies. The hummers especially love the plants in this area. Between the agapantha, the HoneyBird Bush, and the honeysuckle covering the fence, they have a grand time in this part of the yard.
5. Last one for now, is one of my sitting area. I think I need a better photo, but this will give you an idea of what is going on. I planted this area as sort of a Memory Garden. A quiet place to enjoy the beauty of the day, and reflect. Most of the plants in this area are planted for specific people, that I've lost. It seems a bit overgrown right now. We had such a mild winter that things never really went dormant.
Behind the arch with the bench, is a pot containing a Pride of Barbados. I have 3 or 4 others, but since it was Dad's favorite plant, I wanted one in the Memory Garden. Behind that I have some Rose of Sharon planted that I started from seed this year. I am thanking the DG gardener who gave the seed to me. If only I could remember who sent it? Anyway behind the Rose of Sharon are some jonquil bulbs, which brighten up my February's and March's. In the far back you can see a big steel building. That's DH's Bee Barn.

I'll sort through some of this recent download to see what else I can share with you.


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Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Good, I found more photos.

1. I have posted this on this forum on the photo thread but can't help but love it and want to share it again. Found this lovely GF feeding on the flower. Was actually able to get one good photo. I am so thrilled!
2. This is what you see if you are standing in front of the bench looking toward the old family cabin. I planted that honeysuckle on the fence over 20 years ago. A couple of years ago, it got hit hard in the drought, and part of it died back. However, since I put it on drip irrigation it appears to be coming back. Slowly but it is coming back. I also have cannas, and agapantha in this area.
3. When I'm sitting on the bench and I look down and to my right, I see this. I planted plumbago next to the HoneyBird Bush, and next to that I planted a Sky Flower, which is certainly reaching for the sky. Underneath, I have an Native American Indian Madonna statue. I enjoy the view. Bumble bees really like this area too.
4. This is another view of the raised planter from the previous post.
5. This last one is yet another view of the raised planter.

I have a various areas in my yard that I grow different types of plants. Some areas I've had to leave on their own. Slowly, as I recover from a long illness/injury, I'm reclaiming my yard. :-)

I hope that you enjoyed this peek at my home garden.


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Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

You know I'm going to have tons of tropical milkweed seed this year, my plants are literally falling over from the weight of the pods. I would be willing to make up some nice seed packs to give away to visitors. When I start harvesting seeds we can talk about designs for the seed packs if you're interested.

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

You betcha Dee. That sounds good. Maybe we could ask for a donation to help fund the Site? I wonder if I should set the site up a non-profit. Does anyone know anything about non-profits? Our place is all about outdoor education.

I've already started collecting milkweed seed. Tip, make sure your hands are dry when collecting mw seed. When collecting the mw seed, I find due to it's nature, it's easiest to put a dust cloth around my hand, then run my covered hand up the pod. I collect most of the seed that way. Now getting them out of the cloth is a matter of waiting for them to get dryer, then shaking the cloth. Most of the fluff stays stuck on the cloth, while the seeds fall loose. Sometimes rubbing before shaking helps separate the seed from the fluff. Kind of weird to work with, but you have to admire how the seed disperses. That fluff helps lift the seed up and away from the parent plant. They'll travel as far as the wind will carry them. I'm sure they'll start popping up all over the yard before long. :-)

Even better, some of the seedlings I transplanted have taken hold and are happy. I don't have to worry about the big plant dying anymore. Yea. :-) I'll have something for the Monarchs, to lay their eggs on. If they ever find my little oasis that is.

Was sad to find I lost all but two of the Swamp milkweed. :-( I'll have to keep trying, and hopefully the ones I gave Dee survive, too. I keep experimenting with different kinds to see what I can grow here.

I have some more photos of my garden to share.

1. River rock garden. With nosy chickens.
2. Zinnias.
3. A couple of red sage volunteered to grow in pots with my day lillies. I transplanted them here. They seem pretty happy.
4. My Lady Margaret Passion Flower. Which seems to be the preferred host plant for the Gulf Frittilary.
5. Red Penta.

I have more photos, but will have to wait until tomorrow to post them.


Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Gee whiz, I did it again. Note to self. Don't post photos, when tired.
Sorry, see above for what is what.

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Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

I've had a couple of pods open up too. I just wait for them to dry up on their own, the aphids seem to move on when the pods start drying too, a plus to waiting for them to dry, aphids are icky.

I always have volunteer A. curassavica. They blow all over the place if you don't catch them in time. I even had a few come up IN the greenhouse, they blew in there from outside, LOL.

All the Swamp milkweed you sent home with me has made it. They are in the ground and growing.
My narrow leaf milkweed is also doing well, it's in it's second year. I'm glad to say it had a couple of seedlings come up under the parent plant. I have read they don't like a lot of water but this one doesn't seem to mind my overwatering it. I've always got seeds I'm trying to bring up in that area so it gets wet every day.

I found a "black and blue" salvia at OSH today. It's something I've been wanting to try but just hadn't found one for the right price. If it takes off I'll try to take cuttings, they are really pretty plants with dark "black" stems and blue flowers. I bet the hummers will love it.

Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

We're obviously on here at the same time! The Penta's are spectacular. I thought those were asters? I may have to look that one up. Mine are doing well too, it's my first year growing them and they really took off. I love the red ones. Wish my passion vine was doing that well, you just get so much more heat than I do.

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

True, I get more heat than you do, but you have more shade. I really like your forested glen.
I'm trying to get some penta seed started. I also have a pink one. I just love the little flower clusters, evidently, the butterflies do too.
I don't seem to have a photo of the pink one, but I'll take a photo of the pink penta this afternoon.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Butterflies fly best at 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit, sunny, no wind. I recommend planning protection from wind, at least prevailing wind. Sun, especially morning sun. If you need some shade, then dappled shade during hot part of day only ( trim up those trees). Plan on grouping enough pots to make a large enough display for the butterflies to find it - 2ft x 2ft minimum, 3-4 ft better.

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Really good suggestions, pollengarden. The area does have some wind protection, and I am intending on putting in some fencing which will also help with the wind. I will certainly need to put up a shade cloth over at least part of the area. The summer sun is brutal and unforgiving in my area. I will probably need to install some misters, too. Our prevailing wind comes from the southwest, but it does cool us off in the evenings.

We are planning on doing more than trimming up the trees, but that would be a good start. I probably won't be able to get much work done on it until this fall, when we'll be out there all the time anyway.

I was planning on building boxes that I can put the potted plants in when they are flowering. That way I can change them out when the stop blooming. I thought having the pots hidden by the boxes would be a good way to go. I saw them doing that in Thailand, when they were rebuilding their garden after the tsunami.

I am going through some photos of the Butterfly Gardens I've visited. Especially the ones in Malaysia, and Thailand. Because I want to use the area for teaching groups of children I do need to have some kind of open area to gather them all in. Some kind of courtyard, maybe?

I am planning on a small waterfall and a koi pond, and need to have them fit into the topography. I want to look as natural as possible. I found a good place on the slope that I might be able to do that waterfall, but I think it may be too hard to see. I'll probably end up building up something to come out of the hill and flow directly into the koi pond.
I took some more photos early this morning of the site. I still am hoping to get a good photo of the GF, so I haven't downloaded them yet.

I will post them as soon as I can so you can get a better idea of the space I have to use for the site.

While taking my walk this morning with the dogs, I spotted my Dad's favorite blue jay accompanying me on the walk. I may even have a couple of photos of him. I also saw a hot air balloon off in the distance. Not terribly uncommon, but always fun to try to get photos of. I also saw my first gourd vine reach the top of the tunnel frame that I have them growing on. The sunflowers I planted out there by the gourd tunnel are growing like crazy. :-)

When I got home, I saw some hummers around the yard, and the white barred butterfly? It seems to like plumbago. I was surprised and hoped to get a photo of the hummer feeding from the hibiscus, but the dogs scared it off. The hummers are all over this morning. I saw one feeding off the Chaste tree blossoms, and a few minutes later it was working on the lantana. When I moved out back to set a couple of flowering lantana down by the Lady Margaret Passionflower, it checked them out too. What really surprised me though was seeing it working the blueberries. I hope that photo came out. I'll post it on the photo thread if it did.
Just before I came in right now, I saw a swallowtail. Didn't even try to get a photo. I just enjoyed the moment. :-)

More soon.


Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Sounds like you could plant for butterflies and Hummingbirds. You might want a gathering place near your water feature - the kids will gravitate toward water anyway.
If you don't mind an "unnatural" area, and have water to work with, run it through through a sand table or pit - kids just love that. (It doesn't have anything to do with butterflies, but kids prefer things they can touch, followed by things they can watch, with verbal or written instruction a distant 3rd)
Also, remember kids only have a concentration span of ... Oops, already lost 'em. ;)

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Hi pollengarden. Thanks for your comments and suggestions. :-)
I do plant for hummers & bflies. It's so much easier to plant nectar plants for them, than to set out food for them. I do have some hanging feeders, but the wind is pretty strong and blows the hummer food out. It's easier to plant for them. I do have a couple of feeders hanging inside the greenhouse, but since the Mama hummer started taking over the greenhouse last year, she hasn't really let the other hummers in to use them. Except her kids of course. She lets them come around.
I also like taking photos of them nectaring on plants instead of the feeders. It's a lot more challenging, and certainly more appealing to my eye.
I've been watching a lot of the DIY yard improvement type shows. I saw one yesterday that I thought might work for the waterfall. I'll have to draw a picture, and see if I can scan it to show you what I mean.
I like the idea of kids exploring textures. Here's a photo I took at another farm that grows fruit. It's a new type of farm they are into agritourism. It's something our farm will end up doing. With our own flair of course. They are primarily a pick your own berry farm. We are just getting into the fruit, but have been growing Christmas trees, and pumpkins for years.
I've been doing educational field trips for years as well. I used to do four different ones each year. Depending on the season of course. Oh, and the average age of the kids is 5-6 years old.
We had the Pumpkin Patch field trip, where I explained how a pumpkin grows, and what it needs to grow. Then we'd take 'em out to the patch and have them identify different parts of the plant. We gave away a lot of stickers for rewards. :-) At Christmas time, we talk about the trees, and how they grow, how we trim them, and market them. I always loved giving the Nature Hike, and telling the kids about the local wild flowers. I am working on a self-guided hike these days, since I don't have the energy any more to give guided hikes. Then there was the Tipi Village fieldtrip. While that one was probably the hardest in terms of time and labor, it was also the most rewarding for me. I let the kids grind corn, using real manos and metates. I must be crazy for wanting to add the butterfly site. Nah, I'm not crazy, I'm inspired.

This first photo is from their fruit farm. They have a play area for kids. I kind of liked this idea, although, I have to wonder how they keep critters out of the corn in this pool. Last year they were overrun by squirrels. This year, I didn't see a single one. I should ask how they did that.

I promised more photos of the proposed site. So I went out and took this photo, just before 7 in the morning. It's the only time of day that it receives shade. We are looking toward the elderberry tree here.

The next three are photos of the slope that will be the boundary on one side. It makes sense to build the waterfall on the slope to take advantage of the slope. Where would you all put the waterfall, upon seeing these photos?

More photos on next post.


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Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

I took a lot of photos the other day, and here are some more of them.

1. This is a photo of my current favorite sitting place. I found this broken angel after a friend had a yard sale out here. Since the angel was abandoned I gave it a new home. I wish I knew how to fix it's wing. Sigh. Still I really like it here. :-)
2. This is what I call my tree bench, and we are looking towards Sweetwater Creek (dry). The creek will also be a boundary for the site.
3. You know I really like this spot. Behind the angel, you can see the Root Oak to the upper left of the photo. The troll bridge is right under the snag (dead tree, well almost dead). To the upper right, you can see the edge of Grandmother Oak. DH thinks that once I trim off the dead limbs on this elderberry, that the bench seat won't be stable any more. I can't wait to find out who is right. I do want to keep my tree bench though.
4. Under the elderberry we also have this 3+ foot tall packrat nest. I just don't want to evict the poor guy. I will eventually, but for now I'm just enjoying this example of how ingenious they can be. Most people have never seen a packrat nest. Most are messier than this one. It's one of several here on the farm so I don't feel too bad about eventually relocating the rodent.
5. Wild tobacco. At least that is one kind. I think they call that kind nicotiana, but I also have the bush kind with yellow flowers. I get a kick out of watching the hummers defending their wild tobacco. I have several colonies? of hummers here on the farm. I'm glad to hear that my renter had some hummer babies over at their place too. :-) Hummers are happy. So are the many other birds that live here.

Say, Dee, you'll want to know, DH saw a family with baby quail down in the creek a couple of days ago. :-) Not like your batch, but still considering how dry it's been it's good to know that we still have some. Yours are spoiled, you've created a great habitat for them. :-)

I still have more photos to post. I had a good photo safari on Saturday.


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Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Okay, back again with more photos.

1. Unknown plant. Has seeds like milkweed, wind dispersed, fluff carried. Any one know what it is?

2. I should mention that this series of photos is taken on the other side of the elderberry. I hope to include this portion at a later date into the Bfly site, when I am in a position to expand it. Yep, I think that far ahead.

3. This is the slope behind the site, that is covered with cactus. I like the little buds. Yep, I'm keeping the cactus, since I don't want people climbing around on that slope anyway.

4. This photo shows the creek and how it oxbows around the site. I am working to create a native garden near the creek. One of the agave's Dee gave me (okay more than one) are slated to be planted down here. I will have a kidzone for the little guys too. I've been thinking of using different kinds of seeds in bins to show them different kinds. I'm really big on story boards too, and this might be a good place to have one showing different kinds and shapes of seeds. Geared for five year olds of course. :-) We used to have a real tipi village set up in this location. The tipis are long gone, but the fire ring in the center still remains.

5. Standing with the elderberry at your back and looking towards the road, you will see Grandfather Oak. Grandfather Oak is where I did a lot of teaching and storytelling. He has a wonderful shade canopy. We currently have a tire swing hanging up under there and I think that DH put a picnic table under there. It's a peaceful place.

I must say that sharing this photos with you has helped me to clarify my thoughts on the area, and what I hope to achieve. I really do appreciate your advice, suggestions, and thoughts. They help me to refine my ideas, which will improve the site.

Thank you all for taking time out of your busy days to help me with this project.

I do have more photos, but I also have chores. Til later ~


Thumbnail by SingingWolf Thumbnail by SingingWolf Thumbnail by SingingWolf Thumbnail by SingingWolf Thumbnail by SingingWolf
Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Random thoughts:
When I lived in North Dakota, "sand" boxes with corn, beans, or rice were required at Daycare centers because the kids couldn't get outside much in the winter and they need a substitute.
Cameras tend to flatten out slopes, and the only photo that really shows your slope is the last one. I would try and preserve your biodiversity and not disturb the root zone of unique plants or groups (especially the oak). Start your water down through some redundant plants, then see where it wants to go. Maybe test several different starting points. Do you want to walk along beside it and look at it closeup? Or do you just want the sight and sound of water from below?
Stream-bed - I have a wide shallow mostly dry stream-bed (storm drainage) near here. That is where I see the first butterflies in spring - I guess because the plants green up early and it has a little shelter from the wind. However, Colorado water laws are very strict - you can't change the point where water enters or exits your property. So if it were here, we couldn't divert extra water into the stream-bed. I don't know your water situation, or where the water for your waterfall is coming from or going to.
Fire-pit is already there, ground is already disturbed and compacted, it seems logical to keep this area unless access is difficult.

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Thanks again for your observations.

Yes, that's it exactly! "Sand"/Seed boxes. I may even have a couple of those turtle sand boxes around here that I can use. :-) Beans and corn are good big seeds, and maybe smaller tubs with the other kinds of seeds. Sounds like you worked in early childhood development.

You are absolutely right about the slope. It is hard to see in the photos. I was thinking about using the slope next to that small elderberry in the first photo of the slope. Sadly, I would have to disturb the root zones of the plants, so I decided not to put it there.

You've brought up some good points. I was thinking about how much I enjoyed seeing the small waterfalls they built in the Bfly Gardens in Malaysia. I think I want it all. They had them interconnected to ponds. While I don't think I want to do that here, I have been thinking about building something like a wall built into the slope, for the water to cascade down, and at the bottom have a small brook that will feed into the koi pond which will be built closer to the creek. If I make it go along the side of the slope, I'll have space to put a courtyard/patio type gathering space for the field trips. I intend to use solar pumps to move the water, with a battery back up. The water would ideally move from the waterfall to the brook(?) to the koi pond. No water would be going into the creek.
I appreciate that creek. It makes so many things possible. It's the perfect place to put the pre-cut fir trees that we bring in at Christmas time. They really keep well there. We put them under the oak trees on the other side of the creek closer to the road. It's the first place to green up, and the last for the green to go. It is home to lots of birds and other beasties. It is considered a riparian habitat.

We had to get a Environmental survey, and while some parts of the farm have been degraded over the years (before I got here), there is an amazing amount of biodiversity present. It is our family's intention to keep it as pristine as possible, to bring back as much as we can that was lost over time, and to honor the land. We do have some historic Indian sites here on the farm that we protect and preserve. I am part Cherokee, and Kickapoo, so it is very important to me to live in harmony with the land. After all my family is dependent on the land for our livelihood. We're still alivin' off the land. :-)

I think I'm going to have to wait until we get some rain to find the best part of that slope to use for the waterfall. I was planning on doing it this spring but then it went and quit raining in March. I already have little flags to mark out the course. Patience, patience.

I'm not sure what the California water laws are, but why would we change the water course? I know that people up the creek from us have put in dams, but I don't know how to tell them to knock it off. The last time it really rained we had problems on both sides of the farm where th those big pipes run under the road. We had flooding and road damage. I thought I was going to have to hike across the fields to fetch my YS home from school. Instead I took back roads and my Jeep. :-)

The local government doesn't care about the creek, and I think that Sweetwater Creek is a blue line on the maps of the area. I think some federal agency is supposed to take care of it, but you know how that goes. I just know that we do have water rights, and when they dam the water before it gets to our place, it really messes things up. Also one of the people across the road has been throwing his tree trimmings into the creek, which also causes flooding when too much builds up. Oh well, I can only be a good custodian of the part that runs through our farm. DH and I are hoping if we ever get enough rain for the creek to run, that the migrating ducks will return to raise their babies. We really enjoy their visits.

We have something unique here. The people in our community appreciate what we do. I am thinking that someday, the most precious thing out here will be open spaces. It's really important to me to only do what will enhance what we already have. :-)

Because most of the area we intend to use has already been developed to some degree, and it is a sunny sheltered location, that isn't very far for people to walk to, or even to get to in a wheel chair, I think it is the best part of the farm for the Bfly Site.

About the Grandfather Oak tree, it is adjacent to but not really part of the site. I do name the Oak trees here on the farm. They mean a great deal to me. I'll have to find a photo of Grandmother Oak to share with you. She is the heart of the farm in my mind. You'll see.

While scrolling through the photos, I found this 1st photo. To the left of the path is the proposed Site. The path curves around and goes over the Troll bridge. Directly in front of you is Grandmother Oak. The photo is deceiving. She is much bigger than she appears in this photo. Photo taken on May 7, 2014.

This 2nd photo was taken April 27th, and shows some of DH's bee hives in front of Granmother, and yes that big green mass is one tree. I was up on the slope when I took this photo.

I have been scrolling through my photos to find a better photo of Grandmother, but I guess I haven't been taking photos of her lately. Okay for the last year. I'll get one in the morning.

That's it for now. While I do have scads more photos, I just don't have time right now. :-(


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Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

Well, this years crop of Asclepias curassavica seeds are coming in with a vengance. I think maybe I have discovered why I don't want to plant too many of these. I have been collecting seeds morning and night so they don't "poof" everywhere. I don't think they will grow outside of the watered area of my garden but I have gotten to the point of pulling seedlings when I see them and not carefully transplanting them. So if you'd like a bag of fresh ones let me know. I have seeds to share with all who want them, and I still have several plants that haven't ripened yet. I also have tons of single hollyhock seed; black, pink, and purple. I don't remember seeing any hollyhocks in your garden. The bees like them. I germinate them in my greenhouse, they are pretty easy to get started, and kind of fun cuz they're pretty. I hope your weather is getting cooler, it's hard to get anything done outside when it's so hot.

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Hey everyone!

I've been down to the beach this last week, so I wasn't able to go online. Well I guess I could of, if I'd brought my computer.

Dee, yes please. I have the seed you mailed me, thank you! :-) I would like some Hollyhock seed. I was really frustrated that the snails liked them so well, that they kept eating my seedlings. I was able to keep about 5 seedlings alive. Since they are 2nd year bloomers, I am hoping I can keep 'em alive til next year.

My Asclepias curassavica is seeding right now too. I have been collecting the seed, but I can always use more. I liked your seed package idea. That would be a fun thing to give the kids to plant either at home or at their school.

I'm sending a photo of this flower that you gave me. It had a seed pod, which waited for me to come home before bursting open. I've forgotten the name of the plant, but I hope that you remember. It has such a pretty shade of blue in the center.

Dee, if your swamp MW survives, please save seed. Mine didn't survive my most recent absence. Sigh. :-(

My EB#1 says he has some vining MW seed. I hope he's got a lot and that he shares. :-)

My Tacoma stans' seed pods are ripe. Does anyone want seed? I'll be collecting over the next few days. I'll send a photo so you can see what it looks like. (See 2nd photo).

I've got some catching up to do with chores, so I'll be back when I can.



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Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

You should come up with a logo butterfly or something for the site and then we can make up some cool seed packs with the logo on it.

The blue flowering "vine" is Tweedia caerulea or "Blue Butterflyweed". I'm growing them for my friend that sells exotic seed. I'm adding more to my garden this year. They seem to stay pretty
short for a vine but the true blue flowers and huge seedpods make up for their lack of stature. That's coming from a short girl.

You wouldn't think being out in the desert you would have snail trouble, LOL.
I guess I should be thankful they haven't found the new flower garden. The hollyhocks have been great. They did OK considering Summer only lasted a few days. My sunflowers are half the height they were last year, the weather was just too mild for them.

The Swamp milkweed is kind of stalled out, for that matter the only milkweed that is seeding other than the curassavica is the narrow-leaf, which I think is native. I'll be growing more of it next year, I'll keep some in a pot for you. It's a nice height, not huge like some of them, I hate dealing with the aphids on the tall ones. I'm not hopeful that any of the other like 5 kinds of milkweed are even going to bloom this year. I just hope they survive winter.

Well, I have bags of seeds to clean up and lay out to dry. Everything is blooming at once. At this rate I'll be all done with seeds in a week.

Balotesti, Romania(Zone 5a)

Great pics everyone!
Jules, love your new project. It'll be awsome to watch it growing.


Winnetka, CA

Singingwolf.... I have some beautiful white hollyhocks that have tons of seeds right now - I have been hoping to find someone to share with... would you be interested in any? If so...dmail me your address and I'll send you lots!

I am happy to see your BEE project ideas coming together and enjoying all the photos... I too am in SoCal... in fact... Dee shared with me about the roundup you girls had, but unfortunately I had a conflict that weekend so I couldn't join in. It's nice to see other DG'ers who live close and learn about their gardens!

Dee that Tweedia caerulea (Blue Butterflyweed) is gorgeous... how tall does it get?

I've seen about 5-7 monarchs this year in my waystation and one huge swallowtail. Last year I had mourning cloaks, but haven't noticed any this year. I planted a cutting of a gorgeous yellow lantana in my planterbox out in front of the house and there are some lovely small brown butterflies all over it... haven't had time to id them yet... but they sure love the lantana. I am adding to my milkweed collection and I think it's helping.

I have also seen an increase in hummingbirds this year and watched an epic hummingbird battle about a week ago. There were two little guys divebombing each other trying to get to my hummingbird was fun to watch all the activity... while they were chasing each other two bees kept flying in to get a nectar sip and a big 'ol bumbling June bug... the green metallic kind... was circling my pool and kept crashing into the flowers and all the activity... it was hysterical. So much fun to watch nature!

Just took a break here at work to check in on DG... must get back... have a lovely evening everyone...

Let me know if you want some of those seeds Singingwolf.


(Pegi) Norwalk, CA(Zone 10b)

Jules, I'm so glad you told me about this thread. One of my favorite Saturday outings was our first trip to your farm which I fell in love with immediately. DH and I really enjoyed that day.

Will watch your butterfly garden grow along with everyone. Love your pictures! I've lost my interest in gardening a few months ago, but hoping to get back to it soon.

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Hi everyone.

You know I wouldn't have gotten this far without the help of the gardeners here at DG. I am so thrilled by your generous offer of seed, Nancy. I'll dmail you when I'm done with this post. Oh, the Tweedia caerulea that Dee gave me is still in the pot and only got about 2 foot tall so far. I'm keeping an eye on it. I really think that blue is just gorgeous.

I need to start selling some of my plants to get money to buy more plants. It's rather addictive. Learning about all the different kinds of host plants for the different butterflies is fascinating. I am enjoying my BEE Site.

We had a little bit of excitement today when they aired a segment about Bee Thefts on the News. They interviewed DH on ABC News. It was supposed to air yesterday, but a water main broke. Anyway, DH gave a good interview, and hopefully people will begin to realize how devastating Bee thefts can be. It wasn't as in depth as I would have hoped, but that's TV for you.

Adina, you are back from vacation? Good of you to check in here. :-) Thanks for the encouragement. You know I'll keep posting photos as long as I can.

Samigal, I'm so glad that you posted. Even happier that you found your way here. The CA Forum doesn't have much going on right now.

I'm really happy to see so many people having an interest in growing butterfly gardens. I don't know about the rest of you, but since I'm rooted (if you will) here at the farm, and I didn't have much growing when I got here. I think I'm doing pretty good.

Aside from all the Monterey Pine Trees we've planted, we've increased the Oak Tree Grove, I planted an orchard of fruit trees. Did I tell you that the plum tree fruited this year. I guess I heard about it too late. My kids and the coyotes ate the fruit. :-(
I was kind of upset about the coyote at first, but not as upset as DH. He said the coyote was helping himself to the fruit that had fallen off the tree already. I wouldn't have eaten it anyway.
It also reminds me of a story my Elders used to tell us kids about the Coyote and the Plum Tree. It goes like this~

One day the Coyote was sitting on the bank of the creek. He was hot and he was hungry, but when isn't the Coyote hungry? He had gotten a drink and threw himself down on the bank looking down at the creek, watching the water go by. He saw the most amazing sight. He saw several large plums just floating on the surface of the water. He was so hungry he started to drool at the sight. He just couldn't resist reaching out to grab the fruit.
SPLASH! Went the Coyote as he fell into the creek. His wife, Old Woman Coyote came upon him as he was crawling out of the creek, dripping wet. She yelled at him, "Old Man Coyote what are you doing? Where is our dinner? Have you been napping and swimming instead of hunting for our dinner?" Well Old Man Coyote didn't like being yelled at, but he knew he needed to get dinner so he told her about the beautiful fruit that was just out of reach in the creek.
Old Woman Coyote couldn't believe her ears. "Old Man Coyote", she exclaimed, "What is the matter with you? Those plums aren't floating in the water! They are growing on the tree right above your head. You lazy Coyote. I bet you expect me to climb up there and pick those plums, too!"
Well they ended up picking the plums together, and eating their plums right there by the creek.

I don't remember it word perfect anymore, but that is pretty close. :-) Hope you enjoyed the old story about the Coyote and the Plums.

I do have some photos I wanted to post.

Does anyone know this flower? I think it's a Mexican Sunflower. I'm so in love with the brilliant orange color, which changes depending on the light.

2nd photo is of my garden right now. The rock creek is to the right and to the left is the chicken pen. I am so amazed that I was able to get anything to grow in this area. It looks so pretty right now.

I really like these Mexican Petunias here in the 3rd photo. They keep growing on the same stalk which just keeps on giving. Also readily reseeds. I have given some friends in the Fallbrook area some of these beauties, and they are fans too, now. They can really handle the dry heat we have out here.

The 4th and 5th photos are both of Grandmother Oak and my apprentices. I have two now. I guess the first one was having so much fun out here, that his friend wanted to come help out too. The first one we took a couple of hundred of feet away from her. The second one was taken under her canopy. She's stressed right now, but she will recover if it ever rains again.

I guess that's all I've got for tonight.


Thumbnail by SingingWolf Thumbnail by SingingWolf Thumbnail by SingingWolf Thumbnail by SingingWolf Thumbnail by SingingWolf
Magnolia, TX(Zone 9a)

It is looking really good, your flowers are definitely shining for you. I cant imagine trees without boys chuckl. Your coyote story reminds me of other coyote stories I was told or have read as well. Are you going to include stories like that in shady places around the gardens? ?? Waving hello at you from the other side of the states tonite near Chattanooga. :)

Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

Tithonia rotundifolia "Mexican Sunflower". I have some single zinnia's this year that are similar. I'm picking seed from them as I like them better than marigolds, they don't make such a seedy mess at the end of the season.

The Banana, we call it "I'm a banana" after the internet cartoon, has three little babies coming up.
I have it right by the front door in a big plastic pot and it seems to like it there. I figure I can drag it inside when it gets cold being so close to the door. I have one of your Mexican Petunias too, it made it through the winter and gave me a couple of blooms.

I only had three Monarch's this year. That's an all time low. I'm blaming it on the weather.

I have a envelope sitting here for you with fresh milkweed seed and hollyhocks in it. I also put in some calendula seeds. They're from a really nice 3 foot tall bush with bright orange zinnia like flowers. It's been a particularly nice plant and I plan on growing more than next year.

Have a good day tomarrow, I'm going to celebrating my grand-daughters 6th birthday at a local park. That will be fun.

Balotesti, Romania(Zone 5a)

Jules, yes, I came back from vacation. Your garden looks so beautiful! I was happy to see Spirit in one of the pictures. Funny story of the coyote and the plums!LOL


Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Thanks kitt, and I'm waving back to you from way out west here in CA. :-)
You know I hadn't really thought of putting storyboards out with the old stories. Usually story telling is an oral tradition in our culture. I used to do traditional story telling under the Grandfather Oak. I'll have think about it. Maybe I'll have to start doing the story telling again.

Dee, hey sweetie. I'm collecting some of that Tithonia rotundifolia seed if you want some, I'll send it back. It should do well for you. It sure is an impressive flower, and I can't tell you what a kick I get out of seeing the hummers feeding off it in the morning. I did plant if for the B.flies, but the hummies like it too. :-) I am glad you remembered the proper name for it. :-)

Yea! The banana made it so far. Yep, it's frost sensitive. Before I had the gh, I left it on the back patio, and covered it with a sheet on the nights we had frost/freeze warnings. Lived that way for years with no problem. Except it didn't fruit until I planted it in the ground. I'm not surprised it has pups, only that it has three and not the customary two. :-)

I'm glad the Mexican Petunia bloomed for you too. :-) Remember sun and not too much water unless you want them to spread like crazy.

I know you kind of sad that the wisteria we dug up didn't make it, so I dug up another one for you and it's in a pot now. It's doing pretty good.

So far this year I've only seen one monarch. Sigh. No cats at all. :-( I might have to go beg some caterpillars from someone out this way. Although I did see a swallowtail today. :-)

Thanks for the seeds Dee. I'll be keeping my apprentices busy. Heh he he. The calendula sounds intriguing too.

You remember I had problems with my balsam? Well, the one survivor has kind of died back, but I have seedlings springing up like crazy in the pot. I'm hoping they are balsam. I really do like them. Those rainflowers you gave me are blooming right now. It always makes my heart lighter when I see flowers blooming.

Hope your Gd had a wonderful time at her Birthday Party.

Adina, I'm glad you are back. Photos are deceiving. Spots of my garden are beautiful at various times throughout the year. I'm sure I'm not sharing photos of the ugly or untidy stuff.
My garden sure has come a long way in the last few years, though. In some cases, it's become overgrown. I'm slowly getting stronger and am tackling one area at a time so I'm not too overwhelmed.

I started to share a couple of photos yesterday, and ran out of room. I had mentioned that when we first came out here there were only a couple of spots of beauty. The first to my mind has always been Grandmother Oak. She is truly a magnificent tree. It was a good day when we got her in the Historic Tree Registry. Now she's protected.

The other plant that I found beautiful will be featured in my first two photos today. It's commonly called the Naked Lady, or Amaryllis.

When I first came out here, DH's Grandmother was living here with 3 mean little guard mutts, flea ridden chickens, and about 40+ Nubian Goats. The mutts fell prey to the coyotes, as did the chickens. The goats were sold off over the next few years. Once DH got the tractor they really became pests. Couldn't have anything beautiful when they were around. Once they even went across the road and ate the neighbors rose bushes. Dumb goats. You'd think that would have hurt, but hey, I guess they like blackberry vines and those have thorns too.

It was so dry and desolate out here. Even the old homestead had a dearth of green. The only things that survived from DH's Grandfather's day, were two of the English Walnut Trees he planted (he used to have 4). The Honey Locust Tree which is about 70 years old, and an opportunistic elderberry.

At least that's what I thought until in late July or early August when out of no where (it seemed), this beautiful flower appeared. It was large and it was pink! I had never seen anything like it before, and was fascinated. It was several years before I found out what it was though. I always called it my Birthday flower because there would always be one in bloom on my Birthday in August.

Later on I discovered another plant with very similar blooms. (The last three photos) It's called a crinum and is from S. Africa? I found it at an acquaintances folks place, and asked for a rooted bulb. I had it planted in my yard for years before it ever bloomed for me. It also blooms in late July or early August. It's a fascinating plant in it's own right. I never saw anything like how the seeds root before I watched the seeds root on the crinum. They like being surface sown. Then the seed sends out a shoot which burrows into the ground, whereupon it develops a root. Way fun to watch. Easy to propagate once you figure that out, too. Someday, I hope to have enough to hide the ugly meter box in the front yard. I have to protect them from the lawnmower and weedwhacker using some old supports for the soft sided pool we used to have before my ES burned it down. I really ought to make a rock edging around it, so I can use them supports elsewhere. Then again, I throw a sheet over them on them frosty nights to keep the crinum from getting frostbit.

Here's another photo of the Mexican Sunflower. Look at all the color changes in the photo which doesn't really do it justice. I'm planting more next year. I think it could probably take full sun, but seems to do well in part shade where I have it planted. If anyone out there wants seed, let me know, or I'll plant it all. Seriously, I like sharing, and it's no problem. I really do like this flower and think you all will enjoy it too.

That's all I have for now. When I have more energy, I'll come back and post some photos of the Site that I took last spring. It was really pretty, even without our normal rainfall.


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Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

Yes, I would like some of the mexican sunflower seeds.
The two Balsam you gave me are doing fine, one has a couple of flowers on it, they are both pink.
I was down at the greenhouse today and got two surprises; one my grand-daughter had spotted a monarch catapillar and two, as I was watering the wisteria stick I noticed it has new growth! I wasn't expecting that at all. In fact I have been feeling kind of silly for watering it. So now I'm thinking i should put it in the ground this fall, maybe I'll wait for it lose it leaves again. I also had two more Tweedia germinate this past week, kinda late but I'm not going to complain. I'm trying to germinate seeds from a pink Tweedia, really rare, we'll see.
Check out this flower - Peruvian Daffodil. I have a couple of pots of it. Really gorgeous.

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