By Jim Sollecito
The longer I live, the more beautiful planting becomes.
Next to prayer, it is one of the more faithful, optimistic, deeply personal relationships we can experience.
It is a way of showing belief in the future.
I didn’t want to be 60; now I aspire to be 70. And since I am constantly evolving, so does my landscape and the wildlife I aim to attract. Let’s talk about our most delightful, tranquil, hard-working guests.
Butterflies add a moving, breathing dynamic to the landscape. Sometimes called “flying flowers” for the fleeting, flamboyant role they play.
As a vibrant butterfly unexpectedly enters my view, I feel my whole body respond with excitement. My wife Megan’s automatic response is to enthusiastically bounce into action and grab a photo. She nabbed this monarch feeding on a hydrangea. Megan tells me it’s easy to sneak up on a butterfly so this makes them pretty agreeable photography subjects.
Butterflies are attracted to red, yellow, orange, pink and purple blossoms that are flat topped and have short flower tubes. They are near-sighted which makes them more interested in masses of plants and flowers. The larger the numbers of flowers, the better the attraction. These pollinators are most active mid-morning through mid-afternoon so they love plants that are in sunshine at that time of day. Look for the newer Proven Winners plant varieties found at boutique garden centers. These improved flowering shrubs and perennials will grow to compact size and form, requiring little if any pruning. They don’t require any type of spray and by introducing multiple varieties, you can achieve months and months of continuous bloom.
Include some flat stones that will be welcome resting places for butterflies to warm their wings. Throw in a moist muddy spot with some puddling where they will drink and take in necessary minerals. You’ll amaze yourself with your newborn landscape. When I change the water in our dog’s dish, I like to empty it where I know the butterflies can collect for a nice butterfly cocktail at the end of a long butterfly workday.
Thankfully we live in Central New York so once again we’re celebrating another change of seasons. For decades of my life I haven’t had to set an alarm clock all through April and May. During those months my inner being can’t wait to leap out of bed. With the unfolding of spring, I look forward to expanding daylight so I can begin my day. The growing season just keeps getting better and better with every sunrise and sunset. Our senses sharpen, and life is just more lively. Even hot coffee tastes better out on the deck as I watch the world wake up.
Spring is our reward for getting through another winter. Don’t let this one slip by. If some of your landscape plantings are underwhelming, weak, interfering or overgrown, it’s really easy to change them out for something more naturally impressive. Plus, the charm of planting is the pursuit of a very attainable and rewarding goal. It’s an occasion for another season of hope.
Some people don’t know where to start. If you need help with your vision, give a call. Let’s make one of your forgotten dreams come true this year.
Jim Sollecito is the first lifetime senior certified landscape professional in New York State. He operates Sollecito Landscaping Nursery in Syracuse. Contact him at
315-468-1142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.