Friday, June 28, 2013

Butterflies and Summertime

Longer days, warmer weather…the perfect time for this season’s sun-loving flowers to shine!  Many classic San Diego ornamental trees are blooming all around us, from the ferny leaves and lavender flowers of the Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia), 

to the vivid canary-edged orange cup like blooms of the African Tulip Tree (Spathodea campanulata).  Flowering vines are also putting on a good show…Passionflower vines both edible and ornamental, Red Trumpet vines with forked leaves and delicate tendrils, and the large open flowers of Mandevilla dipladenia 

are lovely draped over arbors or gracing trellises.  Best of all, these bright blooms do more than just liven up the scenery; they welcome neighborhood friends of all sorts to visit!

You might already know that both hummingbirds and butterflies fall head over heels for red, tubular flowers of all kinds…but did you know certain plants act as a home base for many kinds of butterflies?  For instance, Milkweed (Asclepias

is a popular plant as it is both a main food source for Monarch larvae and a parent plant that adult butterflies lay their eggs on.  We have garden varieties of Milkweed with flowers in shades of yellow, orange, and red, and also carry a native Milkweed in our Native Plants section.  Narrow Leaved Milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis, blooms with creamy white flowers, is a valuable food source for Monarch butterflies, and grows well in full sun.  

Butterflies have several other favorites in the garden as well….the aptly named Butterfly Bush, or Buddleia, boasts plump spires of tiny sweet smelling flowers that tempt hungry butterflies to stay and drink their nectar.  Sage (Salvia) and Penstemon species come in many colors, leaf shapes, and sizes; their tubular shaped flowers are magnets for hummingbirds and butterflies alike.  Native plants like Red Buckwheat and Monkeyflower are tough little beauties that are very low maintenance once established, and entice native fauna to your landscape.  Be sure to notice the butterfly icons on the signs describing our native plants, as they will indicate which plants are best for drawing in fluttering friends.

And of course, summer is the perfect time to relax and enjoy your garden— and appreciate all the hard work you’ve put in earlier this season!  Mission Hills Nursery offers everything you need to put the finishing touches on outdoor entertaining, from cheerful paper lanterns and hanging baskets, to handmade patio furniture and hand painted ceramic table top torches.  Be it a neatly kept container garden on an outside patio, a monstrous vegetable garden rich with the smell of sun-warmed soil and ripening tomatoes, or a pocket garden just starting on a sunny kitchen windowsill, find time to share your growing plants with the ones you love.  Sip a glass of wine with a friend, laugh at the antics of the local wildlife, and watch the sun sink down over your own carefully tended bit of nature.  Cheers to the joys of gardening!  Cheers to summer!

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