Enjoying butterflies in the garden

Published 9:00 am Sunday, March 27, 2016

A beautiful monarch butterfly sips nectar from a colorful flower in the gardens. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

A beautiful monarch butterfly sips nectar from a colorful flower in the gardens. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

The setting is a warm August day in the gardens with plenty of sunshine a calm wind, when all of a sudden I notice a lovely butterfly landing on a colorful flower. As he or she perches there sipping nectar, my life is transformed into a state of awe at this gorgeous creature sharing the colors in the gardens with me.

Ever so softly its wings flutter as it makes it’s way over to another bloom to see what it has to offer.

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“Hello little beauty,” I say to it, “What are you desiring on this fine day to sip upon?”

As if he understands I am talking just to him, he flies a little closer for me to admire his great beauty. Life seems to stop for me while I sit there on the bench and watch what is going on in the gardens. Soon he is joined by another butterfly and it isn’t long before they fly off together to another part of the gardens.

Over on the old tree stump I have a clay saucer filled with rotten fruit from some very old bananas still in their peel and pieces of watermelon that the butterflies delight in snacking on. A red admiral stops by for a tasty morsel of the ndbanana and he is followed shortly by a swallowtail.  They love to sit on the old stump and sun themselves as they warm up from the chilly morning.  Soon they will fly off to the flowers in the gardens in search of sweet nectar from the wide variety the gardens offer.

Zinnias seem to be one of their favorite plants, and I have several different varieties with some very large blooms and others with smaller blooms for them to choose from. The Benary’s giant series seems to be the preferred variety today with many colors of the rainbow for them to choose from. The colors of red, yellow, orange, pink and purple add so much color to the gardens and give them such a variety to land on.

Rocks of different shapes and sizes provide landing strips for the butterflies while they rest before taking flight again and also provide warm place for them to spread their wings and absorb the heat from the rocks. Another clay saucer filled with moist sand and soil provides some much needed salt for them to feast on.

The rudbeckia are drawing in the monarchs for a bit of nectar while the dangling blooms on kiss-me-over the garden gate hold several butterflies, and a hummingbird flies by checking out the source of excitement. On the butterfly weed and common milkweed monarch caterpillars appear ,munching the leaves as soon they will be spinning a chrysalis that will form another monarch butterfly. The monarchs need to drink lots of nectar in preparation for their long flight to Mexico where they live over the winter.

As I stroll through the gardens bees are buzzing about the Joe-pye weed while damsel flies hover like little helicopters over another flower. The garden seems to be a patchwork quilt of flowers, birds, bees, butterflies and many other types of insects. What a sight to behold!

I am reminded of an old Irish blessing: “May the wings of a butterfly kiss the sun and find your shoulder to light on, to bring you luck, happiness and riches today, tomorrow and beyond.”  What riches and happiness I am filled with to be a part of this extravaganza in the gardens with so many colors of the rainbow everywhere my eyes wander.

Joy and happiness fill my heart when I see all that God has created for me to enjoy. A day in the gardens is like being in heaven, where there are no cares or worries, no sickness — just the love of God spread over my little piece of Earth that I am the caretaker of.

If you plant flowers they will reward you with not just beautiful flowers, but also all of the creatures that inhabit them. The old saying about taking time to smell the roses should be a part of the daily routine for everyone. We live in a fast-paced world, but if you just stop for a bit your life will feel better.

“I’ve watched you now a full half-hour; self-poised upon that yellow flower and, little butterfly! Indeed I know not if you sleep or feed.  How motionless! — not frozen seas more motionless! And then what joy awaits you, when the breeze hath found you out among the trees, and calls you forth again!” — William Wordsworth, “To a Butterfly”  


Carol Hegel Lang is a green thumb residing in Albert Lea. Her column appears weekly. Email her at carolhegellang@gmail.com.