Garden Photo of the Day

A Garden for Butterflies in Michigan

Choosing flowers to attract the most butterflies and hummingbirds

monarch butterflies on a liatris flower spike

Today we’re off to Michigan to see John Blair’s incredible butterfly and hummingbird garden.

I sent in some of my garden photos back in 2013 for Garden Photo of the Day (More From John’s Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden in Michigan). After that, I completely filled all of my available garden space at our southeastern Michigan home, so my wife and I moved from suburbia to a very rural location in southern Michigan two years ago. Now with nine acres, I have nearly unlimited room for gardening! My specialty is making butterfly gardens and also incorporating native plants with my favorite nonnatives to create what I call a blended garden. Additionally, we are restoring five of our acres to native prairie in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We have lots of fun gardening projects going on here, and I thought you might enjoy seeing what I’ve gotten done in two summers here at our new place.

wild mix of many different flowersA wild mix of many different flowers ensures lots and lots of food sources for a wide range of visiting butterflies. It is pretty gorgeous too!

hummingbird sipping from a cigar flowerA hummingbird sips at the flowers of Cuphea ignea (Zones 10–12). Also called cigar flower, this plant is native to Mexico but grows as an annual in colder zones.

Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly sipping at tall verbenaAn eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly sips at tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis, Zones 7–11 or as an annual).

giant swallowtail butterfly on a zinniaA giant swallowtail butterfly on a zinnia (Zinnia elegans, annual) flower. Zinnias are well loved by butterflies, and varieties with fewer petals are favored the most by pollinators.

colorful pollinator gardenA path wanders through this pollinator’s paradise!

native perennials mixed with annualsNative perennials mix with the annuals to round out this ecologically sensitive garden.

rainbow over flowersA rainbow over the garden

monarch butterflies on a liatris flower spikeJust a few monarch butterflies on a liatris flower spike! This looks like Liatris ligulistylis (Zones 3–7), which is an absolute magnet for monarch butterflies.

log cabin with flower gardenHow great would it be to live in this flowery, butterfly-filled paradise?

buckeye butterfly on a flowerThe distinctive spots on its wings give the common buckeye butterfly its name.

Polyphemus mothThis incredible Polyphemus moth is an example of how moths can be just as beautiful as butterflies.


Have a garden you’d like to share?

Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

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View Comments


  1. Carolyn3134 02/26/2021

    Absolutely gorgeous!! Your gardens are what I hope my tiny portion of the world will look like one day! On behalf of the pollinators, thank you!!! THANK YOU!!!

    1. JohnBlair429 02/26/2021

      Thank you, Carolyn!

  2. SueMccreary 02/26/2021

    Beautiful! Amazing what you’ve created in just a short amount of time. Thank you out for sharing.

    1. JohnBlair429 02/26/2021

      You’re welcome, Sue :-)

  3. PattyLouise 02/26/2021

    Amazing photos! Love the purple trellis! Lovely gardens!

    1. JohnBlair429 02/26/2021

      Thanks, Patty!

  4. User avater
    user-7007816 02/26/2021

    Your garden is an inspiration. I definitely will be adding more flowers for the butterflies.

    1. JohnBlair429 02/26/2021

      Yay! They will thank you :-)

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 02/26/2021

    John, there are no words!! Amazing. I hope the readers will go back to your previous submissions & take a look. It was just stunning. Do you mainly have annuals?

    1. JohnBlair429 02/26/2021

      So glad you enjoyed my photos! I’m probably about 40% annuals and 60% perennials.

  6. User avater
    simplesue 02/26/2021

    I think "pollinator’s paradise" is an excellent description of this enormous, successful, gorgeous flower garden that seems to go on for miles!
    The sky is nothing but sun...I'm so used to my garden with sun for a couple hours then shade fro a couple hours....looks like you have 100% sun and your flowers really show it!
    It's fantastic....I can almost smell the scent of the flowers in the heat of the sun and wow all the activity from pollinators that were lucky to discover your garden!
    Love it! Oh and your log home is super nice!

    1. JohnBlair429 02/26/2021

      Thanks so much, Sue! At my previous home, I had primarily shade with just a few hours of sun per day, so I’m new to full sun gardening. I’m really excited as to how much easier it is to grow in this new to me place with so much light and it has really opened up my palette in terms of what I can grow :-)

  7. dankoellen 02/26/2021

    WOW, fantastic garden and great photos. You are very skilled in both areas.

    1. JohnBlair429 02/26/2021

      Thanks, Dan!

  8. sheila_schultz 02/26/2021

    John, the colors and textures in your magnificent gardens make my heart sing. I can't imagine a more beautiful property. You must smile every time you look out your windows. Wow!

    1. JohnBlair429 02/26/2021

      Thanks, Sheila. We really feel blessed to be out here and able to create and play in beautiful gardens :-)

  9. btucker9675 02/26/2021

    Love your beautiful gardens and that you are re-creating a prairie! I plant for pollinators but am working to inform my neighbors (we live in a subdivision) that when they use pesticides, they are killing insects indiscriminately. I have had several people tell me that since we moved here about 4 years ago, they've noticed an increase in butterflies, etc., and love it, but they still hire companies to come in and spray poisons! Thank you for sharing your beautiful slice of heaven there in Michigan.

    1. JohnBlair429 02/26/2021

      Thank you for your efforts to create habitat at your yard. Hopefully you will inspire your neighbors and be able to create pollinator oasis in your neighborhood :-)

  10. user-5117752 02/26/2021

    Just fabulous!!! I wanted my gardens to look just like that but I really needed a helper and now, well, I may try a new look this year. But I just love your colors, the varieties and the hummer (my guy and gal should be back around April 15th) and, of course , the monarchs on the liatris - well just all of your pollinator paradise!!!

    1. JohnBlair429 02/26/2021

      Thank you so much. It is joyful work and seeing the lovely pollinators, birds and other wildlife is the icing on the cake :-)

  11. User avater
    bdowen 02/26/2021

    Spectacular gardens, photos, effort to create it all. I hope you will also share your work with the prairie restoration project.
    Also curious if others have good strategies for BTucker's comment about neighbors and pesticides.

    1. JohnBlair429 02/26/2021

      I have lots of neat photos of the prairie restoration that is in-process, but I’m not sure it would fit in with the what folks at Fine Gardening usually cover?

  12. carolineyoungwilliams 03/01/2021

    Beautiful job John. Thank you for sharing.

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