August 12, 2020
Deer-Proof Butterfly & Bee Garden
Never before have I seen so many butterflies in one garden as I did last October when the CTG team visited Ingrid and Doug Green’s garden west of Lago Vista.
Director Ed Fuentes and grip Billy Driver joined me on a journey that logged countless “oh wow” moments to hear Doug’s story about building a haven for butterflies, bees, all pollinators, and birds.
These days, even more wildlife shares the land’s 28 acres with the Greens since Doug diversified food supplies. He also installed 13 water stations, 150 birdhouses, and several butterfly puddling stations among post oaks and live oaks.
Since deer populate the land, too, he dedicated an enclosed haven for pollinator plants that deer would graze before pollinators got to the floral food buffet.
He dedicated it to his dad Paul Green, a long-term joyful garden mentor as a member of what’s now the The Garden Club of Austin.
When Paul opened Paul’s Beauty Salon on Red River Street in 1951, he styled up generations of customers. No doubt, he answered garden questions about the gardens he created around it!
Inspired by his dad, Doug designed a 2700 square foot pentagon with drill stem pipe. Off duty firefighter Ryan Stark drove posts four feet into the ground with an air hammer, securing them without concrete.
The fence double duties as vertical support for perennial and annual vines that flower across the seasons, along with Mustang grapes for birds.
At the gate, he planted native crossvine and evergreen wisteria.
An original member of the Austin Pond Society, Doug applied his ponding savvy to construct a pentagonal bird bath. Bees and wasps perch on its edges while butterflies puddle in the gravel.
He designed one fountain with an upside-down container topped with a sphere, formed with concrete around a grandchild’s old soccer ball.
He’s got good sandy loam, but he nourished it with compost (now from his massive piles). Clusters of Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ attract bees and butterflies. He pairs them with butterfly-beloved Gregg’s mistflower, ruellia and Esperanza (Yellow Bells) in pleasing harmony.
“But the biggest thing I did for the garden is that I bought a load of granite gravel. It’s mulch, it’s got nutrients, and it’s porous,” he said.
In just two years, his plants exploded and so did his pollinator population. Queen butterflies crowded native perennial Gregg’s mistflower (Conoclinium greggii).
Butterflies, bees and other pollinators love perennial Caryopteris ‘Dark Knight’, a plant I want to add.
And countless Monarchs sipped up on their migrating fuel stop.
Doug accents with containers: purchased, scavenged and modified. Others he designs and welds to hold native Hamelia patens.
He cuts the bottoms out of stock tanks to allow roots to grow deep. This one holds summer blooming Pride of Barbados.
He uses 2×6 cedar for containers he builds, often in the shape of a pentagon. In fact, one of his games with kids is to find all the pentagons!
As a hobbyist metal worker, he designs and welds mild steel into containers, butterfly chairs, and garden art.
He started a website Express Yourself Austin where you can get his how-tos and arrange to order a custom piece.
Get a partial plant list.
Watch Doug’s story now!
Thanks for stopping by! Linda