by Kathy Feagan (this article is dedicated to Rhonda Blanton, Superwoman idea-ist, decorator extraordinaire and beautiful person!)
This year’s sale is going to be different! Rhonda has been talking about us having a ‘plant of the year’ or ‘sale’ for the longest time – pushing that plant as a great, beneficial one for our area and ordering LOTS of it. We thought and thought. It was just too danged hard for me to come up with one plant!Then, inspiration struck! Why not make several plants ‘plant of the spring’ with an emphasis on plants that attract Butterflies, Song and Hummingbirds and even bees. I decided to order LOTS of Butterfly Weed. All that is commercially available is Asclepias tuberosa, the native butterfly weed. Jean Dotson called and begged that I reconsider and order Tropical Milkweed, which she had located at a nursery in Barton Springs. I did some research and found that, although there is nothing wrong with the native tuberosa but that Monarch strongly prefer the milk-producing Asclepias curssavica. I was concerned after reading some of the problems caused by Tropical Milkweed, according to NPSOT, but, after more research and from listening to Jean, decided that it was not a problem for us here in North Texas. So, we will have 90 of these Monarch attracting plants available at the sale!
Other Butterfly, Song and Hummingbird, and even bee attractive plants (to name just a few that A BRAND NEW EMPHASIS IS BORN at the 2014 BCMGA Spring Plant Salewere purchased in abundance) that will be offered at our sale this year are:
Gregg’s Mistflower, Eupatorium greggii: if you don’t have this plant, you are missing out. There is nothing quite like ruffling your Gregg’s Mist and seeing hundreds of butterflies come flitting out! Monarchs are especially attracted to it. Also in the Eupatorium family is Joe Pyre Weed – which draws butterflies, hummers and bees!
Yarrows, Achillea millefolium, of which we’ll have Coronation Gold, Paprika, Terra Cotta, Royal Tapestry, Moonglow, Summer Pastels and White Beauties, are SUPER attractive to butterflies (particularly Admirals) and Hummers! Another great thing about yarrows, especially Moonglow, is that they are pretty much evergreen, so you have something interesting to see even in the harshest winter weather.
Russian Sage, Perovskia atripliciolia, is one beautiful shrub type perennial but also attracts butterflies, hummers, songbirds and bees! It looks like a blue cloud and is especially beautiful in the fall months.
Agastaches, of which we’ll have Apricot Sunrise, Blue Fortune, and Ava’s Hummingbird Mint (pictured) are not only gorgeous, smell divine (like licorice) and are very, very attractive to hummingbirds as well as butterflies! This plant dies back each winter, you cut it to the ground after it goes dormant, then comes roaring back in early spring. It just blooms its heart out all spring through late fall.
Coreopsis – due to the butterfly factor, we went all out on these beauties! We’ll have Jethro Tull, Heaven’s Gate (pictured), Red Shift, Baby Sun, Moonbeam, Early Sunrise, and Sunray. Butterflies FLOCK to them, and, they are just lovely to look at! This is another full season bloomer.
Cosmos – this terrific annual is another great butterfly, hummer and songbird attractor! We’ll have cosmic mix and sonata mix at the sale. Along with PENTAS and DIANTHUS/PINKS which are also great attractors!
Asters are not only wonderful fall bloomers, but they are also spring through late fall butterfly, hummingbird, bee and songbird attractors. We’ll have Stokes Peachie’s Pink, Purple Dome and Alerts at the sale. Asters actually attract and maintain 115 different species of butterflies and bees. They are terrific nectar and pollen producers.
Honeysuckles – are terrifically beautiful vines that support 36 species of Butterflies and Hummingbirds. At the sale, you’ll fine native Coral, Texas Superstar Pam’s Pink and shrub honeysuckle Honey Rose Red (pictured). Another great thing about Coral Honeysuckles is that they are somewhat evergreen, too.
Salvias are an outstanding example of a super hardy, drought resistant perennial that bloom profusely, but also is a great supporter and attractor of so many beneficial insects, butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and even hummers and songbirds. Their strong aroma also helps repel bad bugs and
insects! Rabbits, deer and other varmint also stay away from them. We’ll have: Black & Blue, Purple Pastel, Violet, Texas Superstar Mystic Spires, New Deminsion Blue (pictured), Berggarten, August Duelberg, Texas Superstar Henry Duelberg (MY FAVORITE!), Furmans Red, Raspberry, Indigo Spires Silke’s Dream, Blue Hills, East Freisland, Snow Hill, Sierra Linda, Chaparral, Cobalt and Trident Sages, Tricolor, Apricot, Dreamsicle/Coral Nymph Hummingbird Sage, Hot Lips, Moonshine, Red Mountain, Flame, Moonglow, Pink, Red, and Wild Grape!
Flame Acanthus, Aniscanthus quadrifidus v wrightii mexicanfire – love it or hate it, let me tell you this for certain – hummingbirds ADORE this plant. It grows huge and is even often called the ‘Propane Plant’ for its ability to disguise a big ol’ ugly propane tank in your yard. Trust me, it will be covered with hummers all season long. Hummers are always most attracted to red plants and especially, any with that great tubular flower and places to perch.
Mexican Bush Sage, Salvia leucantha is one wonderful plant. In fact, Molly and I have marveled at its fabulousness at the perennial trials quite often. It is a super beneficial attractor of butterflies, birds and hummers. It has one of the most beautiful blooms I have ever seen and was just made for a hummingbird’s beak!
Besides all of the above, we’ve ordered lots of Passionvine, Butterfly Bushes, Emu and Turpentine Bushes (Butterflies and Hummers LOVE THESE!), Coneflowers, Lantanas, Verbena, Fennel, Lavenders, Iceplants and Sedums, Phlox, Bee Balms, Black-eyed Susans, Scabiosa, Candytuft, Catmint, Lobelia, Daisies of all kinds, wonderful Grasses, Crossvines and Clematis, Esperanzas, Laurels, Sumac, Penstemon, Turks Caps, Texas Sages in multiple varieties, Yuccas, Gaura, Daylilies, Hostas, Abelias, American Beautyberry, Columbines, Rose of Sharon, Desert Willows, Crepe Myrtles, Gayfeather and Galliaridas, all super attractors. We’ll have Monterrey White Oaks, which support close to 543 species of butterflies and Goldenrod, which supports over 115 species of birds, butterflies along with beneficial spiders and more! In fact, the interesting thing is, there is hardly a plant at our sale that doesn’t benefit our world in some way!
Our resident ‘Butterfly Whisperer’, Jean Dotson, will be at the sale along with a team of Butterfly and Bird attractor ‘experts’ to answer questions and direct customers to wonderful attractor plants. Cheryl McCormick will be manning the very important herb corner, where just about every plant is a very beneficial attractor. It must be in our ‘jeans’, eh?