How to plant a butterfly garden

Butterflies are the Fairy Queens of our gardens flitting from flower to flower and with a little know how and the right plants you can transform your garden into a butterfly playground!

The secret to luring butterflies is to grow both host plants which provide food and shelter for young caterpillars and nectar rich butterfly attracting flowers.

While most caterpillars aren’t too fussy about the leaves they eat others are very particular about their dinner. For example Dingy Swallowtail butterflies like to feed on citrus and the Common Imperial Blue favours wattles. Just bear in mind that caterpillars will chew the leaves of their favourite plants, so just be prepared to accept a few holes here and there.

Butterflies flock to sedums with their masses of pink flowers from summer to autumn. You’ll also find them flitting around colourful daisies, nasturtiums and gorgeous yarrow flowers. The sunflower is a magnet for nectar hungry butterflies too – with its brightly coloured blooms so too is the pretty Verbena bonariensis.

Try growing colourful flowers in big bold groups to catch their attention as they’re flying overhead they also like simple flowers that are flat and easy to land on and don’t forget to grow plants that flower in different seasons to attract butterflies to your garden throughout the year.

How to plant a bee friendly garden

Bee’s – what’s all the buzz about and why do we need them in our garden?

When I tell you that 1 in mouthfuls of the food that we eat is thanks to the work of bees and that 90% of all food crops are pollinated by bees… then you begin to understand just how important these supply!

So attracting bees into your garden not only helps pollinate your fruit and veggies, but it can actually help pollinate fruit and vegies on farms up to five kilometres away – because bees will travel that far for the sweet nectar.

Creating a bee-friendly garden at your place is easy – it can be as simple as some pots of flowering plants or as elaborate as a full flowering mass planted border just make sure you’ve got things in flower in every season.

Bright and sweetly scented flowers like these Bidens are irresistible to bees and I can smell why! Bidens are long flowering with a low growing habit and masses of these sunshine yellow, long-lasting flowers. They love full sun and a good trim back once they’ve finished flowering.

You could also try including some Pentas to bring in the bees – these tiny star-shaped flowers come in red, white or lavender shades and the bees just love them! Cut these plants back hard in winter to encourage oodles of new growth in the spring.

Now of course once you’ve attracted bees into your garden you want to make sure that you’re not going to harm them or worse kill them! So if you need to use an insecticide or a fungicide choose one from the eco organic garden range these are certified organic and absolutely safe for bees. Check out the range from eco organic garden here: https://ecoorganicgarden.com.au/

Dahlia’s Ain’t Dowdy – how to grow beautiful dahlias

Dahlia’s certainly ain’t dowdy! In fact this old-fashioned beauty is making one serious comeback – this diverse group of plants comes in a stunning mix of shades from white and yellows to reds, oranges, pinks and purples and almost black! Even specky bicolour varieties and an array of flower shapes from single varieties that attract the bees, too fancy doubles in every design. You’ll find tall varieties and dwarf types that reach your knees.

You can grow dahlias from tubers which are planted sometime between late winter and spring or through the warmer months you can get them potted like this. Now dahlias like to bask in the sun and they do best in a moist well-drained soil, they also like protection from strong winds particularly the taller varieties.

Dahlias are one of those invaluable plants that burst into bloom in the summer and continue flowing right through until autumn, when a lot of that colour has dropped off. In fact if conditions are right you can get flowers on dahlias right up to a Mother’s Day! So they combined beautifully with other late flowering stars in the perennial border.

When the flowers start to fade just deadhead them to encourage more blooms – simply cut the faded stem back to a pair of leaves to keep the plant looking good. Or better yet harvest the flowers when they’re at their peak and bring them indoors for vases of spectacular colour!

Natural Dyed Easter Eggs with a botanical twist

How to create your own natural vegetable dyes….

HINT – these dyes work best on white or very pale coloured eggs. Hard boil the eggs (and allow them to cool) BEFORE colouring them.

Natural Beetroot Dye for Easter Eggs 
(will make eggs a purple colour)

– 2 cups of grated beetroot
– 2 cups of water
– tablespoon of vinegar

Simmer the grated beetroot in the water for 15-20 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool and strain off the beetroot. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to the cooled, strained dye and set aside until needed.

 

Natural Purple Cabbage Dye for Easter Eggs
(will make eggs a blue colour)

– half a purple cabbage, finely chopped
– enough water to barely cover it in a small pot
– 1 tablespoon of vinegar per cup of liquid after simering

Simmer the chopped cabbage in enough water to barely cover it for 15-30 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool and strain off the cabbage. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar for each cup of dyed liquid left.

Natural Brown Onion Skin Dye for Easter Eggs
(will make eggs a golden/bronze colour)

– brown onion skins from 6-10 onions
– enough water to barely cover them in a small pot.
– 1 tablespoon of vinegar per cup of liquid after simmering

Simmer the onion skins in water for 15-30 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool, before straining off the onion skins. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar for each cup of dyed liquid left.

——-

Now to add the botanical twist! Before placing the eggs in the natural vegetable dyes, use a stocking or pantyhose to hold a leaf or flower against each egg.

Then pop the eggs into your choosen dye and leave them to soak up the dye overnight.

Remove from the dye, take off the stocking or pantyhose and the leaf or flower and allow them to air dry on a rack. Once they are dry – add a nice shine to each egg by gently rubbing over some olive oil.

And tah dah you’re done! Use these beauties to decorate your Easter table.

What’s wrong with my roses?

What’s wrong with my roses? Whether you’ve got lots of plants or just one rose bush, this is a really common question!

So here are some simple solutions, to solve your rose riddles.

1. Not getting many blooms? Time to dead head your roses AND feed them up! Dead-heading your rose is…dead easy. Simply prune off the spent flower head but don’t just cut off the head, cut the stem as if you were cutting a long stemmed rose for the vase. You can also encourage a bigger flush of repeat blooms, by cutting the plant back a third and feeding it up with organic fertilisers (Chloe’s favourites are eco-aminogro and eco-seaweed).

2. Watch out for Black Spot, a fungal disease that gets into the leaf, causing distinctive black spots. The best way to stop it weakening your rose is to prevent it getting into the leaf in the first place. Pick off any infected leaves and pop them straight into the rubbish bin. Then give the plant a drenching spray all over with eco-fungicide. Repeat every 1 to 2 weeks to keep your roses protected.

3. Make sure you water down the base of your roses because damp leaves encourage fungal spores to multiply!

4. Spotted something sucking the life out of your plant? These little critters are aphids. And they can be black, grey or green but typically they hang out in bunches on the growing tips and cause deformed, shrivelled growth. Under planting your roses with things like garlic and chives may help to deter aphids. And of course make sure you include lots of sweet smelling, brightly coloured flowers – these will help draw in the lady beetles that just love gobbling up aphids!

5. Aphids can also be controlled with a hit of eco-oil. BUT you can actually mix your eco-oil in with eco-fungicide and that way you end up with a super organic to target your rose pest and diseases without harming bees and beneficial insects.

The full range of eco-organic garden products can be found in your local garden centre, nursery or online at: eco organic garden

Pimp your pots!

Here are 3 clever ways to decorate pots, simply grab a terracotta pot and give it a makeover with some glue, paint and a few accessories.

This easy DIY project is a great way to Pimp Your Pots, using things you probably have lying around your home or garage.

Chloe suggests the following ways to decorate pots;
1. Lace effect look
2. Drip paint effect
3. Paint and rope combo

Into these pretty pots you can pop succulents, cacti, herbs or flowers. Just use plants that match the styling of your decorated pots.

If you give this project a go, we’d LOVE to see your results – share pics on Instagram and using #iamagardenette so we can see and share.

Copyright 2018 - The Gardenettes