Design a butterfly-friendly canyon

This sheltered front entrance pleases winged visitors too

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  • Mexican feather grass creates a backdrop for Coreopsis grandiflora and Salvia nemorosa blooms.

    Butterfly flowers

    Thomas J. Story

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1. Use geology to your advantage. Instead of flattening the property and hauling away tons of bedrock, the designers worked with the natural terrain to develop a valuable microclimate. The reflected warmth from the house and walls also spurs plants to flower earlier and hang on longer than usual ― a real bonus in an area with a short growing season.

2. Take advantage of low-tech water-saving techniques. The garden was planted during a Stage 3 Drought Emergency in Santa Fe, when irrigation was allowed only once a week, says Downey. Deep pipe irrigation ― which uses perforated PVC pipes filled with gravel to direct water to the plants' root zone ― made it possible. (For more information on the subject, visit Santa Fe Permaculture)

3. Place nectar-rich plants close to the house. Downey put butterfly and hummingbird pleasers near windows and entrances whenever possible. "Our goal here was for the homeowners to open their front door and discover butterflies," he says.

Design: Nate Downey, Santa Fe Permaculture, Santa Fe (505/424-4444)



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