Garden Photo of the Day

Nectar Rich Flowers Attract Pollinators in Wisconsin

By: Kim Charles

Gardening to attract butterflies is the emphasis in Vickie’s garden.

“My name is Vickie Sowers, and I live in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Since April I have transformed our formally shady front yard into a butterfly garden. We have had many butterfly visitors, that we enjoy very much.  Next year I have a many more ideas.  I am so happy that I incorporated our leftover rotting tree stump into the design.  It adds a lot of interest. Among the flowers I planted, Zinnias seem to be the butterflies most favorite.”


Have a garden you’d like to share? Email 5-10 high-resolution photos (there is no need to reduce photo sizing before sending–simply point, shoot and send the photos our way) and a brief story about your garden to [email protected]. Please include where your location!

Sending photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box is just fine.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

You don’t have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

Follow us: @finegardening on Twitter | FineGardeningMagazine on Facebook | @finegardening on Instagram

View Comments


  1. grannieannie1 10/06/2017

    Lush, colorful, and pretty flowers, Vickie, and wonderful to see how you are concerned about our pollinators. I also have decided to have more groupings of zinnias next year because the butterflies do seem to gravitate to them and they last a long season, still blooming here in Delaware for that matter. We also have an old tree stump we could plant but haven't. Do you find you have to water it more often?

  2. garden1953 10/06/2017

    Beautiful photography! Love what you've done with your front yard.

  3. user-6799116 10/06/2017

    Zinnias are the best! Many monarchs still feeding here on my pink ones (as in your photo). Loved your pictures. Karen, Colchester, Ontario

  4. anabowers 10/06/2017

    Beautiful, Vickie! So much color! Thanks for sharing with us.

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 10/06/2017

    Even to me, your colorful buffet of flowers looks positively yummy and the word is out among your local butterfly population that yours is the place for the finest dining! Great use of the rotting stump...adds another level for a fun planting opportunity. I have a type of very small flowered zinnia that reseeds generously and, by this time of the year, is quite a butterfly magnet. I share your enthusiasm for zinnias in the garden.

  6. NCYarden 10/06/2017

    Gorgeous butterfly haven you have created. Kinda wish I was a butterfly now. Thanks for sharing.

  7. user-3565112 10/06/2017

    Thank you for posting the beautiful photos of the zinnia & butterflies. My friend since kindergarten planted them every year & loved to watch the butterflies & yellow finches. This year he was physically unable & his wife & I planted the zinnias from seed for him. We spent many afternoons this summer in his gardens & despite his declining health he was enthusiastic & asked me to take divisions from his gardens & plant them in mine. A week before his passing his wife & he spent 2 hrs. in the garden watching the birds & butterflies congregate. He died Sept.1 & your post is meaningful to me this morning. Thank you & good luck, Joe

    1. chelleisdiggin 10/06/2017

      I'm so sorry to read about your son's passing, Joe. It sounds like you and his wife were able to provide a wonderful last growing season in the garden with him. What a great way to bring peace and comfort at the end of his life. It really touched my heart to read about it.

      1. user-3565112 10/08/2017

        Thank you for the kind remarks about my friend. He was the kindest person I've ever known & having him for a friend for over 70 yrs. was an honor for me.Thank you & good luck, Joe

    2. frankgreenhalgh 10/06/2017

      Hello Joe - You are a wonderful man helping your long-time friend and enjoying the garden with him and his wife during difficult times. Special memories for you to have of a very special friend. Cheers from Oz

      1. user-3565112 10/08/2017

        Thank you Frank. He & his wife were married 49 yrs. & he bought flowers for her every week.. The Tuesday night 4 days before his death he & I were in his bedroom & he gave me a bunch of money & asked me to buy flowers for her every Tuesday morning. He told me he knew he did not have long to live.Special memories by the ton, the next night in the hospital the last thing he said to me was a joke about his 02 mask.. Good luck Frank, Joe

        1. frankgreenhalgh 10/08/2017

          Hi Joe - Your comments have really moved me - made me very emotional in fact! What dedication your dear friend had for his wife, and what a great man you are for keeping his memories alive! Cheers mate and look after yourself

    3. user-4691082 10/06/2017

      I am truly sorry for your loss. Although 100% of us will die, it is still a loss. I have the comfort of being a Christian where we believe this life is the cocoon, and we will escape this shell and be like the butterfly one day!

      1. user-3565112 10/08/2017

        Thank you Rhonda for you sincere sentiments. My friend enjoyed life to the fullest & accepted his imminent death gracefully . He Thank you & good luck, Joe

    4. user-7008735 10/06/2017

      Joe, I am sorry for the loss of your long-time friend, but I'm glad you have those happy memories of him and that you will remember him whenever you see zinnias or the other plants from his garden. I, too, have plants I associate with family members and garden buddies; they are extra special.

      1. user-3565112 10/08/2017

        Thank you Lorraine, We lived 3 blocks from each other for the last 48 yrs. & he introduced me to gardening. His wife & I planted all his gardens this year including 24 tomato plants. He loved to grow tomatoes & give them away. He had perennial gardens & planted tons of annuals every year but the zinnias were always from seed. Thank you & good luck, Joe

    5. User avater
      LindaonWhidbey 10/06/2017

      Joe, what a wonderful connection you had with your childhood friend. My dad and I planted a zinnia garden every summer when I was a child and those happy flowers always remind me of him. Thanks for sharing this touching story.

      1. user-3565112 10/08/2017

        Good evening Linda, He was a truly beautiful & kind person. The only time we were separated for more than a few weeks was when he was away in the Marines.
        Your memories of your Dad planting flowers are touching & beautiful, I have similar memories of my Dad but it involved helping him build things & running to the hardware store etc. Thank you & ggod luck, Joe

    6. user-7007498 10/06/2017

      Touching story, Joe. Such a small act of planting seeds for someone obviously added to his life and will leave a special memory for you.

      1. user-3565112 10/08/2017

        Good evening, Kevin, He enjoyed the little things in life & took delight in waiting for Zinnia seeds to go on sale & buying all they had for 10 cents a pack. When we were kids he caught pigeons under a bridge cleaned them up & sold them to pigeon clubs for 25 cents apiece. I guess we were street urchins . He was also the best athlete I knew and a talented artist. Everyone should have a friend like him. Thank you Kevin & ggod Luck, Joe

    7. anitaberlanga 10/08/2017

      Joe, what a lovely tribute to your late friend - what a touching gesture to help plant a zinnia garden for him - and a lovely memory for you.

      1. user-3565112 10/09/2017

        Good evening Linda, The week I met in kindergarten (Feb. 1948) he invited me to go to his house for lunch. His family was very, very poor & his Mom was not glad to see me . I think that was the closest I ever came to beating him in a foot race. My point is he was the kindest & most generous person I knew & it started in kindergarten.Doing little things for him in the last years of his life was a pleasure for me & I could never repay what he gave me with his friendship. Thank you & good luc.Joe

  8. Sunshine111 10/06/2017

    Lovely to see all the vibrant colors pop with the butterflies!

  9. cheryl_c 10/06/2017

    Zinnias have always held a special place in my heart because I remember my mother growing them in our backyard garden when I was quite young. They always look happy - not surprising that they are from Mexico- they look like a fiesta! I am lucky that I have a neighbor who has some re-seeding zinnias, all colors, both single and double, and she offered for me to gather some of her seed last fall. I scattered it in open areas in my newly developing meadow garden, and they've been blooming now for months. What joy! Joe, I hope zinnias will always recall for you the precious friendship with your kindergarten friend. Most friendships never last that long - this one must have been really special.

  10. frankgreenhalgh 10/06/2017

    Nice work Vickie. Down under, the Monarch butterfly lays its eggs on the milkweed plant and it completes its life cycle on the plant. I'm wondering if this is the case in your part of the world? Cheers from Oz

    1. tennisluv 10/06/2017

      They do the same here, but the butterflies feed from other nectar sources also.

  11. user-4691082 10/06/2017

    My husband has been after me to plant zinnias. Next year, I will! Thanks for sharing, Vickie. Beautiful photos!

    1. user-7007498 10/06/2017

      Hi Rhonda. I have found the Zowie series of zinnias attact butterflies better than others, and are a bit more mildew resistant.

      1. user-4691082 10/06/2017

        Thanks Kevin!

  12. tennisluv 10/06/2017

    Nice butterfly garden, Vickie. Lots of nice bright colors - flowers & butterflies. I did not realize that zinnias attracted butterflies but have found that yellow lantana and Victoria blue salvia definitely do, along with hummingbirds. Will have to add zinnias to my cutting bed. Thanks for the tip.

    1. frankgreenhalgh 10/06/2017

      Hey Sonya - About three weeks ago I was thinking about a GPOD post by Chris B. and the attraction of insects to the colour yellow (e.g. yellow sticky traps are used in greenhouses/glasshouses to attract and kill insect pests). I understand that bees are attracted to the scent of flowers and nectar, and I believe that electrical forces are also involved. However, I was watching bees working my peony rose flowers and suddenly realised that the anthers and pollen sacs are yellow, and that many flowers also have yellow anthers and pollen sacs. I'm wondering if this is also important in the attraction of insects and pollination etc. Just a thought! Cheers from Oz

      1. User avater
        LindaonWhidbey 10/06/2017

        Interesting theory, Frank. One of the few exceptions are the white salvia that I mentioned to Vickie and calamentha 'Montrose White' both of which are covered all summer with butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. Scent must be the attraction with those.

      2. tennisluv 10/08/2017

        Don't know about all insects, but I do know from experience that yellow jackets are attracted to yellow (threw away hummingbird feeders with yellow colorations and replaced them with all red). I have seen articles that many harmful insects are attracted to yellow because that is the color that plants fade to when in distress/decline and that insect species are attracted to certain colors. Have you ever noticed that the color of butterfly weed blooms are close to the color of Monarch Butterflies? I do see more yellow butterflies on my yellow lantana than any other, although I do get pretty blue butterflies on them also.

  13. btucker9675 10/06/2017

    Delightful garden... and wonderful comments today, especially about how gardening is an opportunity to care for others, and a reflection of our deepest held faith! Lovely way to end the work week. I have also had good luck with lantana attracting butterflies and will add zinnias next year!

  14. user-7008735 10/06/2017

    Thank you for sharing the pretty photos of your bright and cheerful garden, Vickie. I like the way you have incorporated the stump to add some height to your planting. It's lovely that you're doing your bit to help the butterflies and other pollinators.

  15. Chris_N 10/06/2017

    You're in Oshkosh b'gosh! I've been there a couple of times to visit the Paine Art Center and Gardens. They had a great show on Tiffany glass one of the times. But I digress. Your garden looks beautiful, Vickie. Good for you taking advantage of your sudden sun to provide a smorgasbord for the bees and butterflies. Real food for the pollinators and eye candy for us!

  16. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 10/06/2017

    Good morning, Vickie. Great photos of your new sunny garden. Zinnias are definitely one of my favorite flowers. We had many reseed this summer but have noticed that each year they lose a little of their bright color. The butterflies don't seem to care, though. Another pollinator flower that we planted for the first time this year is white salvia. It's listed as an annual, looks like 'Hot Lips' without the red and we're hoping that it will come back as well as that does.

  17. Maggieat11 10/06/2017

    I enjoyed your bright and "happy" photos today. I too, need to plant more zinnias, I've always loved them and the range of colors is fantastic. Loved the use of your stump as a planter also. Thanks for sharing!

  18. cynthiamccain 10/07/2017

    Love your garden, Vickie--so much color--and that first photo looks like butterfly heaven! Even being short on space, I try to shoe horn in some zinnias for the butterflies; they seem to really like Cut & Come Again. Thanks for sharing your photos.

  19. anitaberlanga 10/08/2017

    that second photo (with the Monarch in flight) is STUNNING! But your entire garden is stunning. I,too, have myriad zinnias in my beds this time of year - and the butterflies love them! Hummers love them, too!

  20. chris_buscemi 10/09/2017

    Beautiful and so colorful. One of my favorite zinnias is Envy. It's a lime green and tall. Thank you for sharing your garden.

  21. thevioletfern 10/10/2017

    Wonderful! The zinnias seemed especially stunning this year. Those butterflies are in the know! I love the tree stump in your design. It seems your tree still gives. Not quite sure that you miss it much, though (; That sure is a way to turn lemons into lemonade!

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest