Realizing I would have to do some research, I started to set goals of what I wanted to get out of the garden. Along the way my focus changed from simply providing nectar fro my bees towards seeing what ecological effects my garden could have. I wanted to see how much biodiversity I could fit into one acre of land. Nothing was measured scientifically (I'd likely need at least 30 yards to make any conclusions,) but my achievements are as follows.
Purple Milkweed still grows in my yard but I've not been able to get it to flower again because pests keep eating it!
This is an achievement for me in that I got to photograph it flowering. I have no plans of trying to grow it again as all the sources for plants at this time I suspect might be from plant poachers.
Very recently I was approached by a museum about using one of my photos for an exhibit. Unfortunately I'm not a professional photographer (Yet!) and don't normally save images in as high a resolution as their project required. Still, to have been asked was an honor!
Roughly 40% of our native ephemeral wildflowers disperse their seeds this way and most gardening books treat the topic like a cliff note... There isn't a whole lot to tell, but I've found certain species of ants favor certain plant species and some are better about dispersing them a greater distance than other.
I planted this as a host plant for the Pipe Vine Swallowtail and I'm still waiting for them to find it. :( though this seems a common problem among butterfly gardeners.
Passiflora lutea, is another species I'm proud to say I grow. Unfortunately it seems I don't grow enough of it. This is a plant they tell you to grow in the shade and let it grow up the stems and branches of another plant. There's nothing wrong with that, but the absolutely charming leaves, flowers, and fruit get completely lost in the foliage. I have a vine of this in my garden still, I think. But now that I've seen it growing at the Mt. Cuba Center, clearly I'm growing it wrong. It still gets lost, but they have it growing right on a fence in full sun where it thickly covers the fence almost like an ivy. It's a great little vine that doesn't get out of hand, and I'm curious to see if Fritillary Butterflies use it as a host.
It's hard to say that F. pergandei wouldn't have found the colonies in my yard eventually. But in all the years I've lived here never noticed the species. They may have eventually come and moved on, as they did, but I believe the increase in resources made the F. pallidefulva and F. incerta colonies a bigger target.
As an added bonus it's a host plant to Spring and Summer Azures. And.....
I found that Sourwood trees are also a great honeybee plant. Which....
Is also a host plant for Spring and Summer Azures. And the caterpillars to this group of Butterflies are tended by ants for protection.
Early on in gardening I had dreams of sweeping meadows full of Lupins to see this behavior of ants, plants, and butterflies. I'm happy I already have plants doing this for me. As I've found out Lupins require full sun and basically want to grow in 80% sand.