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Tips on Creating Your Own Butterfly Garden

Coves community gardens

The folks who live in Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina truly value the region and the lush landscape that provides a home to all the native plants and animals. Those who have chosen Carolina mountain properties as their home have formed a collaborative effort to protect the Blue Ridge Mountain’s natural heritage. One amazing way to establish a gorgeous property is to encourage and maintain the scenic beauty that surrounds us in the mountains, valleys, woodlands and fields.

The butterflies that grace North Carolina are astoundingly gorgeous, and the people living in the High Country enjoy planting gardens to encourage the local and natural species. There are over 175 species of butterflies in North Carolina. Butterflies, and of course caterpillars, are a real asset and necessity to our native landscape. They help pollinate our flowers as well as provide nourishment for our wildlife. By planting butterfly nectar plants and butterfly host plants, you can help preserve the landscape. This will provide a place for the butterflies to feed and reproduce, and will make your time outside visually stunning.

Creating a butterfly garden is relatively simple. The first step is having a basic understanding of which butterflies are native to Carolina mountain properties. Once you know which butterflies thrive in your region, you can decide which ones you want to attract so you can grow a garden to lure these majestic creatures into your yard. Since the plants and butterflies are all native, you’ll be working alongside nature, and that’s a beautifully simple thing!

You can design your garden with the help of a local nursery, by looking at plans online, or simply by relying upon your own creativity. Butterfly gardens can be vast or tiny. Think about incorporating both annuals and perennials–depending on how much gardening you want to do from year to year. The best way to attract these colorful creatures to your yard is to plant a wide variety of nectar plants in the sunny spots, (which will feed the adult butterflies), as well as host plants for the caterpillars. Tapping into the generous sun of North Carolina ensures your butterflies will have plenty of space to bask and warm their bodies before they fly; their wings are designed to be effective solar collectors!

Some of the native butterflies of Western North Carolina and their preferred diet:

Brushfooted Butterflies
• Monarch (milkweed)
• Painted Lady (thistle, hollyhock and sunflower)
• Question Mark (nettle, elm, hackberry, hops, false nettles)
• Red Admiral (nettle, false nettle, pellitory)
• Viceroy (willow, poplar, apple)
• Variegated Fritillary (various, including pansy)
• Mourning Cloak (willow, aspen, cottonwood, elm)
• Red-Spotted Purple (wild cherry, oak, poplar, hawthorn, willow)

• Zebra (pawpaw)
• Spicebush (spicebush, sassafras)
• Eastern Tiger (sycamore, willow)
• Black (dill, parsley, carrot, fennel)

• Silver Spotted (wild licorice, locust)

Sulphurs, Whites and Yellows
• Cabbage White (broccoli, cabbage–mustard family)
• Clouded Sulphur (alfalfa, clover)
• Orange Sulphur (alfalfa, vetch, pea)
• Cloudless Sulphur (ornamental cassia, canary bird bush)

Choose flowers that bloom in various sizes so that no matter the size of the butterfly they can access the nectar. You can strategically place a few large flat rocks for butterflies to perch upon to bask in the sun. Don’t forget to provide shelter for the butterflies in your habitat by leaving standing dead trees or a brush pile. There’s nothing like contributing to the conservation of our Carolina mountain properties while also creating a visually pleasing yard.

Some interesting facts about butterflies: their vibrant colors are caused from sunlight reflecting on their wings, not from pigment. And the life span of a butterfly is relatively brief, from a mere week to nine months.

The Coves Mountain River Club is a sanctuary for many of our native plants and creatures. The residents of The Coves value their panoramic views and form a collaborative effort to maintain the pristine landscape. Wildlife watching is a popular pastime in North Carolina. Take a ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway that winds through the charming towns and gorgeous mountains and affords such awesome views, and you’ll discover all the other folks who care so much about our state. There’s nothing better than being able to observe the wildlife from your very own porch or deck while you sip your morning coffee. The Coves is the perfect setting for wildlife watching. No matter our age, watching the spectacular metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly is a magical show.

Stop by and take a look at The Coves two beautiful community gardens.

Call 828.754.0700 now to schedule a tour!

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The Coves Mountain River Club magazine