Garden Photo of the Day

Sharmila’s Butterfly Garden

Learning from mistakes and making a better garden

My name is Sharmila Nailadi, and I live in Avon, Connecticut. I have a small butterfly/cottage perennial garden that I started when I moved here almost five years ago. Gardening has always been my passion. I have experimented with annuals and container gardening for the past twenty-five years, but now my garden has mostly perennials, shrubs, and ornamental trees. Plants in my garden such as catmint, monarda, butterfly bush, and salvia are hummingbird and butterfly magnets. I’m an artist, and I think of a garden as a blank canvas that you fill up with plants of different colors and textures, just like an artist would do with paints.

My garden has been constantly evolving, and it has been a rewarding, sometimes frustrating, learning experience. I have had successes and failures with my plants. The challenges (in the short growing season that we have) have been to find the right plants for the right location (part sun to part shade), finding plants that deer are not attracted to, and dealing with the unpredictable weather that we have here in Connecticut. Some years we have had hot, dry summers, and some years it has been constantly wet and cloudy. There have been problems with pests such as Japanese beetles and plant diseases such as powdery mildew and rust. My hope for the future is to have learned from my past mistakes and to have a beautiful, healthy, colorful garden that attracts a variety of butterflies and birds.

Swallowtail butterfly on ‘Miss Molly’ butterfly bush (Buddleia ‘Miss Molly’, Zones 5–9).

Knockout rose (Rosa ‘’Radrazz’, Zones 5–9) growing as foundation plants.

Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ (Zones 4–8), which is a spring bloomer.

Hydrangea arborescens, ‘Annabelle’ (Zones 3–9) growing along the walkway.

Annuals in containers.

‘Peach Drift’ rose in a mixed perennial bed.

Monarda ‘Raspberry Wine’ (Zones 4–9) growing almost 5 feet tall.

Echinacea ‘PowWow Wild Berry’ (Zones 4–8) with its beautiful bright pink blooms.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 08/28/2019

    Love all those beautiful colors! Which salvia is that in the container?

    1. avongardener 08/28/2019

      Thank you! The salvia is rocking deep purple, an annual variety that grows quite big and bushy.

  2. btucker9675 08/28/2019

    Marvelous garden - especially love the peach roses, such a beautiful color. Nelly Moser clematis is such a great plant - the one I have in a large pot at the corner of our third garage stops "traffic" when she's in bloom! I also love the little curlies left after the blooms fade away. Thank you for sharing your colorful garden!

    1. avongardener 08/28/2019

      Thank you for your comment! I agree Nelly Moser clematis is a wonderful plant. However, I have found pruning it in early spring can get tricky. If you prune too much, you lose the blooms.

  3. Cenepk10 08/28/2019

    Beautiful... I grow those same plants in Ga. my monarda disappeared this year ... That pot on the porch behind the salvia is GORGEOUS. Thanks for sharing!

    1. avongardener 08/28/2019

      Thank you!

  4. User avater
    simplesue 08/28/2019

    When I read what you wrote I could relate totally -it's almost as though it was everything I had been thinking yesterday as I rearranged some perennials. How gardens evolve and sometimes it rewarding and sometimes frustrating. I'm in zone 6 in Pittsburgh, and deal with some of the challenges, like powdery mildew and extremes in rain being wet or very dry all in the same year, except in this part of the city deer do not come in to our garden.
    I love your plant choices, of the Salvia (as an annual), the butterfly bush, and catmint (I just found "Neptune" catmint which flowered for months).
    So it looks like your experimenting and trial and error has paid off nicely, because you have a really pretty garden! Thanks for sharing your story and garden!

  5. avongardener 08/28/2019

    Thank you for your comment! It is good to know that I’m not alone and there are gardeners who are facing the same issues that I have been dealing with for many years. Yes, gardening is a trail and error process that eventually pays off with all the hard work and dedication. It is all worth it!

  6. melinalynne 08/28/2019

    Your clematis looks amazing! I have the same one, but it doesn't bloom for me quite as much. Any tips?

    1. avongardener 08/28/2019

      Thank you! Nelly Moser is a group 2 Clematis that blooms on previous years growth. So, I prune it very lightly in spring and then fertilize just once in the growing season with an organic fertilizer with a high Phosphorus content. I have made mistakes of pruning it severely and losing many blooms. Hope my tips help!

  7. carolineyoungwilliams 08/29/2019

    OMG Sharmila, Your garden is absolutely beautiful. I love your colors and plant selection. The container section and the coneflowers really caught my attention. I'm in zone 8 and my flowers & I normally struggle in the August heat and I retreat inside. Your flowers are so healthy and rich looking that they have inspired me to go back in the yard and play. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful flowers. I look forward to seeing more of your awesome creations.

    1. avongardener 08/29/2019

      Thank you! I’m glad you like my garden and colorful plants. You are so lucky that you are in zone 8. I guess, you can have a garden throughout the year and not worry about losing plants due to cold wintry weather that I have here in zone 6. Thanks again!

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