There’s Movement Afoot in the Garden

Ornamental grasses sway in the summer breeze.

I love movement in a garden.  It adds magic and excitement when butterflies hover around a butterfly bush or branches of a young tree sway in the breeze.

Fortunately there are easy ways to create this kind of stimulation in your own garden.

You can grow plants that undulate in the wind.  Plants with long stems, thin branches or tall blades fall into this category.  These winners include whirling butterflies (Gaura lindheimeri), Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, tall garden phlox (Phlox paniculata), Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), giant sacaton ornamental grass (Sporobolus wrightii) and ornamental poppies.  The ornamental grasses pictured above stand in a traffic median near a shopping mall.  Although they aren’t labeled, I’m confident that the bluish grass is Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and the grass with golden plumes is Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’).  As for the grass with the red tips, my research suggests that it’s Shenandoah Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’).

The fiery red flowers of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ will bob in the breeze. The plant’s bright blooms and sword-like leaves add drama to the garden even when this beauty isn’t in motion.

You can select plants that attract small creatures, such as butterflies and hummingbirds, to animate your landscape.  Adult butterflies like nectar-rich plants such as bee balm (Monarda), butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), blue fortune hybrid hyssop (Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’). Hummingbirds prefer brightly colored (especially red) plants with tubular flowers including cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, hibiscus (the hardy kind if you want it to last), orange carpet hummingbird (Zauschneria garrettii ‘Orange Carpet), red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) and most varieties of agastache.

If you want to go hog-wild with movement, you can even install a fountain with trickling or cascading water.

As for me, I grow many of the plants mentioned above, attracting my share of butterflies and even an occasional hummingbird.  But the main sources of movement in my garden are the amazing cats, Toto the Fluff Ball and Steve the Socialite.

Toto, the fluff ball, adds humor and movement to the garden.

Talk about movement. . .when miller moths are in season, said cats leap through the air, paws extended like soccer players, knocking moths to the ground and devouring them.  As if Iams Original weren’t enough for their nutritional needs.

Steve, the socialite, tidies himself up amid prairie winecups, Callirhoe involucrata, and bleeding hearts, Dicentra spectabilis.

So if you’re looking for movement in the garden, you may enjoy the subtleties of fluttering insects, gently swaying plants and trickling water.  But it you want real excitement, add cats to the mix.

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