Last year, I planted seven blueberry bushes of different varieties in a bed that bordered the west side of my home. Approximately, two thirds of that bed was still empty this spring.
Part of the bed was taken up by a pair of compost bins. The afternoon sun really bakes the black plastic, hopefully accelerating the decomposition of the materials that no longer leave my home has waste. The plan is to fill one bin up, let it sit for a season, and use the other bin’s compost for the current season. This plan will take a couple of years to reach full scale operation, but I am confident in the idea.
However, black plastic bins are not the most aesthetically pleasing landscape item. Sure, it’s not a tacky gazing ball, fat frog, or some other tchotchke purchased from the discount dungeon known as WalMart.
To hide the bins I planted two “Boomerang” reblooming lilacs. Each bush should get to be about 4 to 5 feet tall and an equal amount wide, but are planted close to the bins to enable pruning for a very effective screen. Before:
I thought about placing some short fence panels to hide the compost bins but that seemed excessive given that in a couple of years these lilacs will be living fences. The great thing about these reblooming lilacs is that you get to enjoy the wonderful blooms for a lot longer period of time than the two or so weeks of a traditional lilac. Granted, that sweet smell permeating everything is a sure sign of warm days to come here in Iowa.
The center piece of the butterfly garden is a troika of butterfly bushes—one “Black Knight” and two “Miss Ruby” bushes. Spaced across the majority of the west garage wall—across approximately eighteen feet—the bushes will provide the vertical interest and deep color background for a variety of other plants.
My favorite local nursery—Peck’s in Cedar Rapids—has a specialist in butterfly gardens and has sketched up a series of different groupings of plants to be placed in between the butterfly bushes to provide a lot of visual interest in the form of different colors and textures. Before:
Here is what things look like with the bushes in the ground.
You can see the large gaps between the bushes that will provide the space for the variety of other plants that are attractive to pollinators. Many thanks to Deb at Peck’s for educating me on the best plants.
Beyond being pretty, this butterfly garden is my gift to the wild pollinators. If a garden will attract butterflies, it is a good bet that the same garden will attract bees. With the recent calamity of colony collapse disorder ongoing I felt it was essential to provide a beneficial habitat to the pollinators of our gardens. I do not know if it will help a great deal, but it is something.