Butterfly gardens are a lot of fun but require a little planning. To ensure asuccessful garden, first consider the butterfly’s needs.Butterflies prefer to rest and feed in full sunshine, which means 10 or more hours ofsunlight per day in June. Water, resting places and food sources for caterpillars areimportant considerations.Putting larger plants to the rear and smaller ones up front makes sense. To make thegarden even more interesting, put a butterfly feeding-dish stand or birdbath where you caneasily see it.A small bench or outdoor chair nearby will make the butterfly garden a great morning orevening resting spot.Pay close attention not only to plants’ height, but to their vigor. As an example, Lantanacamera ‘Miss Huff’ and butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii ‘Black Knight’) canbecome four-foot-wide bushes! Planted too close, these “towers with flowers” cancrowd out neighboring plants.Examples of troublesome, spreading butterfly plants include Monarda, Physostegia andLysmachia.The goal of any butterfly garden is to attract butterflies. Since butterfliesespecially need nectar in hot weather, selecting heat-tolerant, nectar-producing plants isimportant.Purple coneflower (Echinaceae purpurea) and Lantana are two types of butterflyattractors which produce nectar even in the hottest, longest droughts.Pick a combination of nectar plants for season-long bloom. The 1994 Georgia Gold Medalselection ‘Homestead Purple’ verbena will flush in early spring. And Helianthusangustifolia will bloom profusely in September. These plants can extend the nectarseason for very early and late-season butterflies such as zebra swallowtails andfrittilaries.Green food sources for caterpillars are vital to keep strong butterfly populations.Ornamental fennel, the favorite food of our eastern black swallowtail, is easy to grow.Dill, garden fennel, carrot and parsley do well, too. Common butterfly weed, or Asclepiastuberosa, is a good food source. Add these to your garden to encourage morecaterpillars.Butterflies need water and like places to rest and warm up. Add large flat rocks toyour garden. Or fill a birdbath with sand and then add water until the sand glistens.Another fun thing you can do is put pieces of fruit, old or fresh, on top of the sand.Old watermelon, cantaloupe, banana, apple and pear attract butterflies like magnets.The single most important thing you can do to grow healthy plants for butterflies isprepare your garden soil. The goal is to have well-drained soil with lots of organicmatter.Turn the soil 12 inches deep over the entire area. Add several bushels of compost, pinebark or manure, and turn the soil again. Your plants will thrive in this type of soil.Fertilize your garden the day you plant with an even sprinkling of 10-10-10 fertilizer(about one pound per 1,000 square feet). Water it in thoroughly. Apply again every threeweeks until July 1.Avoid getting fertilizer on plant flowers and leaves. It may burn them. Weedoccasionally to cut down on competition for nutrients.Common sense dictates that anything used to kill bugs won’t be suitable for a butterflygarden. A few chewed leaves is a small price to pay for lots of butterflies.After a killing frost, let your plants dry down naturally. Around Christmas, cut woodybushes such as buddleia and ‘Miss Huff’ lantana to six inches high.Set your lawn mower blade on high (three inches or so) and mow the entire garden exceptthe woody bushes. Leave the debris on the ground and cover with an inch or two of freshpine straw. Mound leaves around the bush trunks.Your garden will look neat all winter, and your perennials will emerge just fine nextspring.
A former temporary independent parliamentarian will reappear in court on April 5 after he was charged with sexual penetration and indecent assault of a 17-year-old girl earlier this month.Albert Sydney appeared before Magistrate Adia Mohammed in the Port of Spain Magistrates’ Court Friday and was granted TT$100,000 bail.The 43-year-old former legislator, who had participated in the Children Bill 2012, is alleged to have committed the offence at his home a week ago. He was arrested in a joint exercise involving officers of the Western Division Task Force and the Child Protection Unit.The arrest was made based on a report made by the 17-year-old girl that she was sexually assaulted by the accused.