I had to write this post in time for Father's Day, as this project is something Minnie & Daddy worked on together. As you know Minnie loves being outside & exploring bugs & wildlife. She & Daddy had spotted butterflies in our back garden, & came up with the idea of creating a Butterfly Garden with some recycled materials!
Minnie already has an area of the garden where she has planted flowers from seed, & is able to create mud to her hearts content, but we wanted to create an area which would primarily attract butterflies.
Daddy & Minnie set to work on drawing up a plan for the butterfly garden.
They cleared an area at the bottom of the garden & raked the soil to create an even surface.
They found some wooden pallets in the back of the shed (these had previously been used to make part of a duck pen) & positioned the pallets to make some upcycled decking!
To create a pathway into the garden, Daddy & Minnie went on a log/stick hunt. Minnie loves collecting sticks! They came back with a great selection & set to work making the handrail for the pathway.
With the smaller sticks they weaved mini fences around the corners of the garden. They hammered large sticks in a line, leaving a small gap between each one, & weaved/positioned smaller, thinner sticks between them to create a fence. ( I love this, it makes me think of Mr. McGregor's garden in The Tale of Peter Rabbit)
They added some bark chippings (from a nearby tree which had recently fallen) & raked over the path area. Daddy found some old bricks & they added these to the end of the decking to create another mini pathway.
Now to the plants. (If you've read any of our previous posts on gardening, you'll know we have a problem with rabbits munching their way through most of the things we attempt to grow, hence our raised flowerbeds & fruit & vegetables in alternative containers.) As our main focus was attracting butterflies to this area we wanted to choose plants that would be of benefit to them. We already had ivy & nettles, but added ox-eye daisies, lavender, salvia, & home grown poppies, cornflowers, sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, & marjoram. We've recently added verbena, foxgloves, & lupins.
As some of these were not 'rabbit proof' we planted these in recycled containers & plant pots, so they could be moved to prevent them being munched by hungry bunnies! Minnie added her cornflowers, poppies & nasturtiums that she had grown from seed, but these have now been enjoyed by the rabbits!
We planted our plants & added our containers either side of the decking to create mini gardens. The Butterfly Garden was almost complete & Minnie was desperate to add her Bubble Bottle Wind Chimes.
We've recently had some great days at the beach & collected a few shells which made a perfect natural wind chime for the garden.
We collected some rocks & broken terracotta pots to create a cool damp area for bugs (& toads) near the brick path.
The final touch was the homemade chalkboard. Minnie helped Daddy paint a recycled piece of board (& her coat!) with chalkboard paint to create her outdoor chalkboard. As she loves her bug hunts we thought it would be great to have an area where she could record her findings, so with a chalkboard pen we added 'Today I found....' so she could add her discoveries.
A great way to display artwork outdoors too!
Now the Butterfly Garden was complete!
Obviously some of these plants need to become established, but by the summer we're hoping this area will be bursting with colour & butterflies!
To go with Minnie's bug hunting adventures, Daddy & Minnie created these Bug Spotter Sticks together. Great for recording where insects are found, counting, matching, encouraging an interest & respect for habitats, & following different species.
Minnie explores this Butterfly Garden every day, looking for butterflies & insects. She either settles herself on her tree stump seat & quietly observes her surroundings, or she runs along the pathway & decking flapping her arms pretending to be a butterfly (& if you're with her, she asks you to do the same)! The decking area is sometimes the 'Billy Goats Gruff' bridge & the mini brick pathway has become a plank for a pirate ship!
This area is just bursting with imaginative play opportunities! And did I mention the fairies? They live (according to Minnie) just by the tree stump & if you listen carefully you can hear them singing!!
The garden has seen many visitors too, from toads to butterflies, bees to robins!
I think it's wonderful that Minnie (3yrs) was able to take an active part in every process of creating this garden, from planning, preparing the area & collecting materials, to building & creating, & adding her homegrown plants & homemade wind chimes. This outside area offers space for quiet contemplation, as well as active play & exploration.
I'd just like to thank my hubby for creating such a magical area with Minnie, we all love it! So many special memories have already been created here, & I know there are so many more to come!