Garden Photo of the Day

Proof Is in the Pollinators

Plant it and they will come

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on a bright pink coneflower

Shelley Haefner is sharing a beautiful garden with us today.

One of the best ways to know if you’re planting for pollinators is if you see a continual increase in the varieties that visit. My gardens are organically grown in Old Chatham New York, Zone 5b, where we have a pretty short growing season. Over the last few years, we’ve gone from seeing a few bees and butterflies to seeing a tenfold increase. Part of the reason is the addition of brightly colored perennials and an increased focus on adding the pollinators’ host plants. I thought I’d share my “Perennial Playland,” which attracts the most beautiful visitors to my gardens.

garden bed full of red, pink, and orange pollinator flowersIt’s a riot of color in this ‘Perennial Playland’ garden! This garden is chockful of different varieties for summer color, like coneflowers (Echinacea hybrids, Zones 4–9), daylilies (Hemerocallis hybrids, Zones 4–10), lobelia (Lobelia cardinalis, Zones 3–9), Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum, Zones 3–8), and more.

close up of blue and purple flowers in front of a patioThe patio space planted up with ‘Golden Jubilee’ hyssop (Agastache ‘Golden Jubilee’, Zones 5–8) and mixed with the Giant Benarys zinnias (Zinnia elegans, annual) that I start from seed is very popular with the butterflies and bees.

hummingbird resting on an orange coneflowerBaby hummingbirds learning to eat for the first time sip from different plants and stop for a rest on Adobe Orange coneflowers.

two different butterflies resting on pink coneflowersMultiple visitors enjoy the ‘Mama Mia’ coneflowers.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on a bright pink coneflowerEastern tiger swallowtail on ‘Mama Mia’ coneflower

close up on a fly on top of a pink coneflowerSyrphid fly on Pow Wow Wild Berry coneflowers. (Yes, this looks like a hornet at first glance. Many flies mimic the look of bees and hornets so predators will leave them alone. But syrphid flies don’t sting and are excellent pollinators.)

two butterflies and a moth on an orange coneflowerBumblebees frequently visit Kismet Intense Orange coneflowers, along with various skippers.

black butterfly on a light pink zinniaBlack swallowtails visit these zinnias that I’ve mixed in with dill in the vegetable garden. Dill is one of the host plants for their caterpillars.

monarch butterflu on a red and orange daylily flowerEven the the daylilies get some attention!

dragonfly on bright green leavesWe also have a healthy and diverse population of dragonflies.

orange butterfly on a white milkweedFritillary on ‘Ice Ballet’ milkweed (Asclepias incarnata ‘Ice Ballet’, Zones 3–9)

You can find more of my garden journey on Facebook (GreenThumbDesigner), Instagram (@guiding_green_thumbs), or YouTube (Guiding Green Thumbs).


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View Comments


  1. runfortheroses 08/16/2022

    Hi Shelley. I love the way you approached this. Wonderful garden with some great photography. A nice wide range of pollinators. Thanks!

    1. nyshade 08/16/2022

      Thank you!

  2. user-7821942 08/16/2022

    Beautiful garden and photography. I love the colors of your garden which contrast nicely with the house. Appreciate the tip about mixing the dill with the zinnias. Thanks for sharing.

    1. nyshade 08/17/2022

      Thank you!

  3. Meelianthus 08/16/2022

    All of your winged visitors are fascinatingly beautiful and your flowers are extraordinary ! and wonderful photography. ;)

    1. nyshade 08/17/2022

      Thanks :-)

  4. btucker9675 08/16/2022

    That baby hummingbird is the cutest thing!!! Your garden is so very pretty - bright and happy.

    1. nyshade 08/17/2022

      There were a few of them... it was the first time ive seen the babies learning to eat.. they were all so adorable!

  5. [email protected] 08/16/2022

    Great photos! Do you have a "fancy" camera? Those must have been taken with a telephoto lens! Why did I forget to plant dill this year?!? Thanks

    1. nyshade 08/17/2022

      Most were taken with my iPhone 13 Pro Max... The baby hummingbird was taken with a Sony Powershot. :-) I actually prefer my iphone to my Sony!

  6. Marilyne0 08/17/2022

    Very true, butterflies and bees carry pollen, allowing plants to fertilize. Without them, many living beings would perish. basketball legends unblocked

    1. nyshade 08/17/2022

      I love all my pollinators! They are such a joy!

  7. User avater
    simplesue 08/18/2022

    Oh I can't believe how fabulous your garden and your garden photography is- so clear and well done I feel like I'm there!
    I love what you've created- really a super beautiful garden!

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