There has been lots of activity at the Neighborhood Butterfly Garden and great progress is being made! In late May and early June several of us, including some neighborhood children, planted the 96 donated plants from Dane County’s Plant Dane program. We added six new species, Cardinal Flower, Wild Quinine, Mountain Mint, Hoary Vervain, Leadplant, and Longbeaked Sedge. We now have approximately 50 species of native plants! We also put in a Ninebark shrub that I donated. The rains came shortly after we planted, which was very helpful. Later, we hauled in some water for the Ninebark, which was looking thirsty after the hot dry spell. One of the flowers we just planted, Lavender Hyssop, is already blooming and has had some bumble bees on it! Other plants in bloom are Black-eyed Susan, Purple Coneflower, Blue Vervain, Yellow Coneflower and Swamp Milkweed. Wild strawberry plants are putting out runners and spreading. I’ve seen Monarchs a few times, flying over the plants and lighting on the Swamp Milkweed blooms. Hurray! And if you look carefully, you can spot many seedlings coming up from the seeds we sowed last fall. An application is being submitted for additional free plants from the Plant Dane program, so we can continue to fill in some open spaces.
The challenge, of course, is that right now all sorts of non-native weeds have sprouted in the disturbed soil. Even after smothering the weeds and grass last summer, a wide variety of weed seeds were in the soil waiting for a chance to sprout. Many of them are annuals, and once our plants fill in and get established, the annuals shouldn’t be able to compete very well. But in the short term, a strategy of cutting these down and minimizing the spreading of seeds is recommended. We’ve had a couple sessions of weed cutting, and more will be held.
An additional project in the greenspace is to brush out the fence line at the back. If we can knock down the honeysuckle and buckthorn, we will be able to plant some early-blooming spring wildflowers along the fence to benefit the bumblebees. When the bees first come out in early spring they need nectar and there are not many blooming flowers. Our energetic volunteer Bob has done a tremendous job getting out lots and lots of buckthorn. There is still some honeysuckle that can be taken out with pruners or pruning saws. There is a large buckthorn we are hoping to take down.
A big Thank You to our hard working volunteers! We can still use more volunteers to work on the above tasks, and to continue putting in plants as they become available. Please contact me, Carol Buelow, through the web email, firstname.lastname@example.org.