Garden Photo of the Day

Pam’s butterfly garden in Illinois

Backyard view of more native rock used for paths.

Today’s photos are from Pam Merrill, who says, “I live in Sheldon’s Grove, a rural community in central Illinois. We built our log home in 1991. We have landscaped 8 acres where the house is located and 3 acres across the road.

Close-up view of the butterfly garden, which measures 45’ x75’.

Landscaping as a novice has been quite a learning experience. Trial and error, but mostly error. In 2000 I thought there had to be a better way, so I became a Master Gardener. The title always sounded intimidating to me, and I don’t view myself a master at anything because you never stop learning. Sharing knowledge and helping others is the most rewarding part of gardening.

Butterfly garden view from the house looking across the road. To the right is a native sandstone wall/mound with ornamental grass and native plants like liatris.

My husband has been so creative in the use of native sandstone rock, which we have acquired over the years. He installed the hardscape by himself–extremely time consuming but so rewarding for our choice of a landscape in the country.

Annuals planted at the corner of the driveway (dahlia, zinnia, and cosmos, plus daylily.

I have many gardens but the most popular is the Butterfly Garden, which is visible from the road that runs between our properties. It evolved from an abandoned motocross jump for my sons to practice their dirt bikes on. They grew up and left home, of course, and the view of the dirt mounds from my kitchen windows was begging for something pretty to look at.

Monarch on zinnia.

It took many years to mature, but the Butterfly Garden brings so much joy to us and is appreciated by many friends, neighbors, and strangers driving by, many of whom are directed by others to come and visit. It’s very rewarding to receive so many sincere complements from people who appreciate our work here at home.”

Large native sandstone located in the back corner of the butterfly garden with a tall daylily.

What a lush, flower-packed garden, Pam! The butterflies must LOVE your garden. So nice!

Native sandstone used to line the front and side border of the butterfly garden.

The season is winding down, everyone! Get outside with that camera. We need to see your garden! Yes I said NEED. Not WANT. NEED.

Black and yellow swallowtail butterfly on Mexican sunflower and white butterfly bush.
Oakleaf hydrangea and ornamental grass with swing and large native stone.
Stone wall with giant coneflower and other natives planted in front.
Butterfly garden.
Wildlife is abundant, here eating pears with more native sandstone in the background.

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View Comments


  1. perenniallycrazy 09/03/2014

    I'm with Pat - that view of your butterfly garden from the house is to die for! Definitely a slice of heaven and an inspiration to us all. The world is a better place because of gardeners like you.

    1. terieLR 09/04/2014

      Agreed :)

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/03/2014

    I'm a real rock hound, Pam, and I'm loving your artful as well as practical use of it throughout your garden areas. Those plentiful swaths of russian sage are like blue waves almost cresting over your border gives a very beautiful effect. And, oh, my, those photos with the butterflies are nice to see those miracles of nature eating to their heart's content.

  3. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 09/04/2014

    Beautiful garden, stones and butterflies. What more could you ask for? Ok, I bet there are bluebirds and finches, too, that you haven't mentioned. Looks awesome!

  4. NCYarden 09/04/2014

    As with meander1, I love some stone, especially when it's one I've found and collected myself. How great that you have such an abundance. Great appropriation of an abandoned dirt track too. I bet the butterflies flutter soft "thank yous" to you all the time. And I thank you for sharing. It's beautiful.

  5. sheila_schultz 09/04/2014

    Pam... your gardens have to be the Mid-Western version of heaven for all of the butterflies flying through! They are also a cutting garden dream! Absolutely beautiful.

  6. greengenes 09/04/2014

    Good morning to all! We are blessed with another garden to see, learn and be inspired from! Thankyou Pam and of course, Michelle. I have to say that I love, love, love the sandstones! I so wish we had that around here! We have to buy our rocks here. They stopped allowing us to go up to the mountains and "river pick" rocks, which we did for our chimney. We had built a log home from our own trees.. Anyway Pam you have a beautiful place and such an improvement from a motocross track! The Russian sage is so nice and its one plant I have had trouble with!
    It looks like you have growing the shorter version of the butterfly bush. I have found that you have to keep it cut back to keep it in check. I so enjoy it though. I didn't plant it for the butterflies but it just worked out for them! But thanks to you, Pam you have inspired me to do this for next year! Happy gardening to you and your husband!

  7. GrannyMay 09/04/2014

    Pam I'm not surprised people are sharing your butterfly garden with friends. You and your husband have created a beautiful, natural looking haven for butterflies and other insects and birds as well. Certainly a rewarding project and a great improvement in the view, once the motocross jump was not needed. Beautiful photos of the butterflies and flowers too! I'd love to see more of what you have done on your 8 acres.

  8. lilholloway 09/04/2014

    Pam, your Garden is stunning, stunning, stunning! It took my breath away. I need to find a a place for the butterfly bush in my garden. I am so inspired by all of the gardens that I view. I am, in fact, in awe of all of you.

  9. Meelianthus 09/04/2014

    Pam ~ Your gardens are just enchanting. What a beautiful job you and your husband have done and your love of gardening really shines through. I do love rocks and all of your stonework is amazing ! What a serene place to stroll thru while watching those incredibly beautiful butterflies. Thank you for all the views.

  10. terieLR 09/04/2014

    More! More, please? You and your husband have created a masterpiece. We love it as much as the butterflies do! Please share more of the same AND the other garden areas that you have created in those 20+ years. Well done you two.

  11. juliapryor 09/07/2014

    Others are BLESSED by seeing these images. Thanks to you and Tom for the ways you inspire and "Help Others Learn to Grow"!!

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