Garden Photo of the Day

A Garden for Butterflies in Maryland

Perennials peaking in late summer and fall

Today’s photos come from garden designer James Dillon.

Attached are pictures of a garden I designed pro bono for the Monarch Alliance (a nonprofit in Washington County, Maryland). The garden is located at Kiwanis Park in Hagerstown, Maryland.

The garden peaks in July, with blooms from native plants like Virginia Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum, Zones 3–8), blazingstar (Liatris spicata, Zones 3–9), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea, Zones 3–8), threadleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata, Zones 3–9), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa, Zones 3–9), and swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata, Zones 3–8). The ‘Baby Joe’ Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum, Zones 2–9) blooms next, followed by ‘Iron Butterfly’ ironweed (Vernonia lettermanii ‘Iron Butterfly’, Zones 4–9), ‘Fireworks’ goldenrod (Solidago ‘Fireworks’, Zones 4–9), ‘Golden Fleece’ goldenrod (Solidago ‘Golden Fleece’, Zones 4–9), and ‘October Skies’ aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium ‘October Skies’, Zones 5–8).

Grasses like ‘Heavy Metal’ and ‘Shenandoah’ switchgrass (Panicum virgatum, Zones 4–9) provide a long season of interest. I use ‘Winterthur’ viburnum (Viburnum nudum ‘Winterthur’, Zones 5–9) in a trio for seasonal interest and berries for birds.

The garden sits in a small park, and I enjoy seeing folks checking out the butterflies in the garden.

I hope you like the garden!

Yellow goldenrod and purple astersYellow goldenrod and purple asters mix to create a late-season tapestry of color.

monarch butterfly waystationThe garden manages to balance being a great habitat for butterflies and other wildlife with being a beautiful space for humans to enjoy as well.

Purple coneflowersPurple coneflowers dot the garden with the tall, white spires of Virginia Culver’s root behind.

purple liatrisSpikes of purple liatris echo the color of the coneflowers, while the ornamental grasses help knit the planting together.

Virginia Culver’s rootClose-up of the purple coneflowers and Virginia Culver’s root

baby joe Joe Pye weedThe big, pink flower heads of Joe Pye weed dominate the garden when they bloom. The cultivar ‘Baby Joe’ stays shorter than the normal species to fit better into smaller gardens.


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View Comments


  1. garden1953 10/19/2020

    This is gorgeous! Pure artistry. I wish I lived close enough to visit.

    1. NATIVE_HAVENS 10/19/2020

      Thank you so much! I wish you could as well. It's nice in person because you can get a good view of the bees and other pollinators up close. Cheers!

  2. User avater
    pattyeckels 10/19/2020

    How beautiful! James, we used to live in Hagerstown. I never heard of this park. Where is it located? We still come up that way from South Carolina. I still miss my gardens I had there. Cannot grow a gorgeous garden like this here.

    1. NATIVE_HAVENS 10/19/2020

      I really appreciate that! It's a fairly new park that's at the end of Dynasty Dr. The city gave land to the Kiwanis Club. They asked the Monarch Alliance for help with the garden, who I was volunteering with. The soil conservation district of Washington Co bought the plants per my design. The best time to visit the garden is from early July to October. Thanks again!

  3. User avater
    user-7007816 10/19/2020

    Congratulations to you and everyone involved in the beautiful project. A treat for butterfies and the rest of us.

    1. NATIVE_HAVENS 10/19/2020

      Thank you! Really, so many people came together to make this happen. The success of this garden is possible due to the volunteers that kept it weeded for the first three years. Barbara Rice was the volunteer coordinator that I set up with a detailed maintenance timeline. She was awesome. Thank you again for your gracious comment!

  4. giardiniera 10/19/2020

    So Beautiful! Congrats. I love the textures and the strong vertical plants echoing each other and the pergola. Have you used the annual tithonia? I am in central NYS and had monarchs so many days on these plants. They adore them.

    1. NATIVE_HAVENS 10/19/2020

      Thank you so very much! I learned about using vertical plants by reading books by Piet Oudolf. He really focuses on the physical traits of plants. That really appealed to me because I come from the nursery industry and spent years learning plants by their form. I love Mexican Sunflowers, great call! I got a video of about 10 of them nectaring on them last year, but not so many this year unfortunately. All we can do is keep planting. Take care and thanks again!

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 10/19/2020

    Absolutely lovely!!

    1. NATIVE_HAVENS 10/19/2020

      Thank you!!!

  6. User avater
    simplesue 10/19/2020

    Great garden design!
    I really love it, so tastefully done, great color choices, and plant choices.
    You managed to design a garden that looks natural- which is not easy to do.
    Wish we had this garden in Pittsburgh.

    1. NATIVE_HAVENS 10/19/2020

      I appreciate that so much! I really want to design gardens that emulate nature...with the intensity turned up a notch or two! I enjoyed the natural garden around the Center for Sustainable Landscapes at the Phipps in Pittsburgh. Thank you again!

  7. btucker9675 10/19/2020

    Your design for this garden is perfection - like an elegant meadow. Thank you so much for sharing!

  8. NATIVE_HAVENS 10/19/2020

    Thank you! You nailed it, I was going for "elegant meadow", exactly. My pleasure and thank you again!

  9. Meelianthus 10/19/2020

    Really beautiful, your combinations are exquisite. What a wonderful project to give your time to - and provide life for so many winged travelers.

    1. NATIVE_HAVENS 10/20/2020

      Thank you so very much! This was a super rewarding volunteer project that came together so nicely with the help of the city, soil conservation district, Monarch Alliance, and most importantly, the volunteers!

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