One of the most exciting press trips I’ve ever been on was my recent trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. There was so much packed into the trip, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the end, but it was the most fun I’ve ever had. I made new friends, experienced exclusive backstage opportunities, and visited a butterfly garden.
Visiting a butterfly garden might not seem like the most likely or exciting thing at the happiest place on Earth, but for some reason it made a huge impact on me. I listened as experts talked about the different butterflies, but mostly I was distracted because I’ve always been terrified of bugs, crawling or flying. But, something caught my ear.
One particular, and very popular species of butterfly, the Monarch (not pictured above), has experienced a dive in their population. Nearly 90% of their population has declined due to the cultivation of more land for farming and development, which has caused destruction to the milkweed plant.
Milkweed is the only plant on which Monarch caterpillars feed, so it’s important to their survival. And, despite its name, it’s quite a beautiful flowering plant.
Because we have so much land where we just built our new home, we took a small, awkward corner and made it into something great that will help boost the Monarch population.
The beginning of a beautiful garden
This was what it looked like after we planted our butterfly plants but before we weeded. Yikes.
We have a gorgeous sunroom on the back of our house; on one side of this room is where our patio will be. On the other side was an awkward corner where our air conditioner and a dryer exhaust pipe were. We figured if we can make this corner into something pretty to look at, great, but really it was useable space perfect for planting butterfly friendly plants.
During the spring, I planted a few plants known to attract butterflies, including Brown-Eyed-Susans, flowering sage, coneflowers, and, of course, our milkweed. The garden would get so overgrown with weeds, and the space just wasn’t where we wanted it. In one weekend, we turned it into something amazing.
First, we weeded. Everything. This was a day-long project in itself. We then plotted a path with some edging his parents had left over.
One thing we kept in mind was the eyesore of an air conditioner. Because of the hot air it blows out when running, we were careful not to put any plants in front of, or near the sides of, the unit. We placed weed blocker paper down (you can also use multiple layers of newspaper to keep cost at a minimum) and placed mulch on top to further prevent weed growth and for added aesthetics.
Within our designated path, within the barrier of the mulch, we placed river rock. In the corner, we placed a lovely weatherproof garden bench for sitting.
The fencing you see around the perimeter of the garden is actually made out of pallets. We cut the pallets and arrowed the planks. This cost us absolutely nothing and creates a beautiful, rustic feel that adds to our garden area.
We are so pleased with how it turned out and love sitting out there. We have a bird feeder in which we add Song Bird feed, so we enjoy a variety of very colorful birds that visit our garden. We have multiple butterfly plants and have seen many different kinds of butterflies, including Monarchs.
We also have a hummingbird feeder and during the day, there are two or three that we can see at any given moment.
This garden was a great way to improve a space and didn’t cost that much money. For the plants, fencing, stone, and mulch, we spent around $225.