For the Butterflies

My garden is a cottage garden. Or at least that is what I tell people. It covers the fact that I cannot enter a plant store without bringing something home…and it will probably be, “one of this and two of that ” and, “Oooh, that’s a pretty one! I’m gonna get it too”, with no idea where I am going to plant it when I get home. The ‘dead plant rack’, where the store puts plants that they are not planning on continuing to care for is always carefully scanned. I buy seeds on the same plan. Seed catalogs come out in the dead of winter when it looks like I have gobs of room (because all the plants from last year are dormant and hiding) and I am dying for a fix of bright color.
Good garden design is supposed to involve planning, repetition and order. All the stuff I’m not good at. Things are supposed to be planted in groups of 3 or 5 or 7 and repeated periodically throughout the space. Weeding, mulching and edging (boring jobs) are prized. Pruning and deadheading (slightly better jobs) are a requirement. I do them sometimes. Every year I start out with resolve and keep ahead of the weeds…for awhile. About June things get ahead of me and approximately 2 weeks later it becomes too hot to go outside. Then the weeds come into their own. However, I have noticed the flowers bloom anyway.
Cottage gardens are allowed a little latitude. You don’t have to dead head as much, things are supposed to reseed. Butterflies are attracted to things like parsley that has been allowed to go into bloom. And parsley in bloom is really quite pretty. It is a great place for an obsessive plant collector to plant, “one of this” and “two of that”. If only 2 seeds come up out of an entire package it is not a tragedy in the chaos that is my garden.
Sometimes the chaos yields up lovely surprises. Seeds are often planted and forgotten about, only to pop into glorious bloom at some later, delightful, date. One year the “dead plant rack” was covered in snapdragons at the end of the season. Snaps are a half-hardy perennial where I live and they were so cheap that I got several and decided to ‘give them a chance’. I brought them home and set them in the end of a bed (in their pots) and promptly forgot all about them. Hidden there in the weeds I never gave them another thought until this spring, when they abruptly shoot up to 5 feet in height and burst into beautiful bloom. They have bloomed for months…and are so tall that I am sure they are freaks of some kind.
There are days when I bemoan my weedy, chaotic, messy yard, but I have noticed that the butterflies do not seem to mind at all. They actually appear to prefer my mess to other, more ordered landscapes….and after all, I planted all this for the butterflies and me


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