It’s Not All About The Flowers

I do so love flowers.

But a primary reason why  I choose native plants and xeric (drought tolerant) plants for my gardens is to attract wildlife.

Neon SkimmerLibellula croceipennis, (male).

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar, Papilio polyxenes.

Scarlet Tanager, Piranga olivacea.

Also, I choose natives/xerics to limit water usage.  I choose natives/xerics to challenge myself in the study of plants and related fields of interest.  I choose natives/xerics to experiment with aesthetic design of those plants in my gardens.  I choose natives/xerics to add beauty to my corner of the world.

I digress.

When I began the re-landscaping efforts from my boring, water-thirsty lawn to the diverse, water conserving, perennial garden that I now enjoy, I scattered seeds of Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea,  purchased from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  This was 18 or 19 years ago–my children were wee bairns.  What I remember about that patch of Coneflowers is that when the butterflies were startled as they sipped Coneflower nectar, they would flutter into the air en masse.  There were so many butterflies that I could actually hear the whoosh of their wings.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that many butterflies (or any other pollinators) in my gardens.  Drought, habitat destruction, climate change, overuse of commercial and home chemicals have devastated wildlife of all sorts.

Even so, there are still butterflies around.   Recently, I watched this common Red AdmiralVanessa atalanta, enjoying the spring nectar of a Coneflower.

He (she?) posed nicely for me.

Gardeners usually have competing reasons for the gardening they undertake and appreciate the bounty that a garden grants.

Thanks to Deb at austin agrodolce for introducing me to

6 thoughts on “It’s Not All About The Flowers

  1. I have never seen a red dragonfly before. wow. Love the description of the sound of the butterfly wings. Someday, if it isn’t too late, I’d like to take a trip to Mexico to see a butterfly tree. It must be amazing.


    • Hi Debra–thanks for dropping by. Those red dragonflies are common here in Austin. I have a pond, so they visit during the warm season. Those fluttering butterfly wings–I both felt and heard them. It’s hard to imagine that now, though. I agree that to visit a place with thousands of butterflies must be quite something to behold!


      • We have a pond near our house. I am definitely going to watch out for them. It is funny how sound travels isn’t it? I once heard a grouse drumming. I say heard but really my whole rib cage was vibrating. It was a wonderful/scary/amazing experience.


      • It is interesting how one can “feel” sound–I definitely feel sound when a firetruck or ambulance roars by. Wildlife is a bit more subtle. 🙂 I haven’t seen but one of the red dragonflies this year, but it’s early for them–I usually see them later in the growing season.


  2. Inspirational post! Oh me oh my. Yes to all of the above when it comes to reasons to use native plants. And a big yes to all the visitors we get with natives! A garden ought to be filled with signs and sounds of life including eating and calling out to mates and occasionally resting in the sun. I’ve never seen enough butterflies in one place at one time to hear them take flight, but reading about your experience has me more determined than ever to pursue putting more pollinator attracting plants into play here. To that end I have recently delivered packets of blanketflower, clammyweed and antelope horn seeds to research and then plant. I can’t wait!


    • Thank you, Deb!! As are most of your posts! In fact, you’ve been an inspiration to me. I have plenty of wild and wonderful visitors to my gardens, but I don’t always have the time/patience to notice them. I want them, I just haven’t made the effort to record their visits through photography. I’m REALLY going to make an effort to be more patient, specifically with photographing wildlife in my gardens. How exciting that you’re awaiting those seeds. You will have fun planting and even more fun once they grow and bloom.


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