About Our Backyard

Our summer garden

I’m fascinated by butterflies, and I wanted more of them in our backyard.  I gradually became aware of how important native plants are for both butterflies and birds.

We started our backyard project in 2005 by installing a rain garden and planting bald cypress, redbud, and tupelo (black gum) trees. In 2006, we planted shrubs, perennials, grasses, sedges, ferns, and vines, focusing on plants that would attract birds and butterflies.

The backyard has been an enjoyable and ongoing learning experience. We now have about one hundred fifty different native plants, which support a diversity of birds, butterflies, and other insects.

Harry and I enjoy birds and have long provided food and water for them. Since planting the natives, we have seen an increase in backyard birds, both in numbers and variety. They still come to the feeders, especially in winter, but they also feed on berries, eat seeds, and hunt for insects throughout the year. We identified fifty-two different species in 2010.

I very much enjoy butterflies, and I’ve gradually become aware of how dependent they are on native plants. Some caterpillars can eat only specific plants (host plants). I’ve managed to photograph thirty different butterflies in the backyard – some of which I had never seen before.

Other Insects
In addition to birds and butterflies, we see a wide variety of insects in the garden — bees, wasps, spiders, beetles, etc. Most insects are beneficial, and many of them are essential for pollinating plants. They also likely contribute to the increased bird activity that we see. Almost all baby birds need insects to survive.

Native Plant Resources
I remember how overwhelmed I felt when I started to choose native plants for our backyard, and I’ve compiled some resources that may be helpful, including a list of 25 of my favorite native plants.

We like sharing the backyard with others. If you’d like to visit, please contact me.

Our Backyard Story
Here are some images of our yard during the first year of the transition.