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The Pollinator Garden

Brooke here. Let’s talk about the butterfly garden.

Once upon a time, I kept marine reef aquariums. I loved them. I sunk a ton of resources into them, and enjoyed every minute of the labor. They were a garden in my living room; fresh, growing, a million colors.

They died. Tank crash. Everything was perfect, and then it wasn’t, and a whole lot of fish and coral and other critters died on my watch.

These days, I don’t keep aquariums. I keep large dogs and plants, which may not be easier to keep alive exactly, but the dogs are hard to ignore and the plants typically bounce back when you water them. I miss the fish, the coral, the little scampery cleaner shrimp…

So I put in a pollinator garden.

This has been one of my solo projects. Brown has helped with the larger digouts, but establishment and maintenance have been my chores.

Garden, front view, August 2016

This is my first large landscaping project. There are parts that I’d have done differently, I suppose, but there aren’t too many glaring errors.

Garden, rear view, August 2016

With some exceptions, all of the plants are perennials that are attractive to pollinators, and are low to medium height (no more than 24″). This is to allow space between them for cleaning and replanting and shouting at those darned squirrels which dig up everything in reach. There are some dwarf butterfly bushes and taller coreopsis for height, and along the fenceline are evergreen camellia Japonica.

The garden is still a baby. It’ll take several years for the plants to fill the open spaces. Some of them, like the dwarf bee balm, are already fighting for dominance. I’ll be yanking this stuff out by the armfulls next season.

Bee balm, second year.

My buddy Ursula keeps detailed records of the wildlife that passes through her garden. I’m not as diligent about the various affairs of bugs and birds and whatnots. I’ll usually pause and take a photograph if an especially charismatic critter pops in. These are the ones I’ve caught and IDed for Summer 2016.

Red-spotted purple admiral
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Either a black swallowtail or a dark variation on the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Zebra swallowtail! Probably my favorite rare find of the year.
Great Spotted Fritillary
Some variant of pearly-eyed or satyr

These make me happy; I needed to be happy today. Maybe they’ll make you happy, too.

I’ll write up the post on the butterfly weed and the monarchs next.

Trees. Falling. Everywhere.

ETA: The blog is being rebooted as an incentive for my Patreon Supporters. All posts go live after a week, but Supporters at the $10+ tiers get early access. Thank you!

Once, not very long ago, we bought a house in the woods. It’s no longer as “in the woods” as it used to be, both through our own actions and because the stupid trees keep falling down.

Continue reading “Trees. Falling. Everywhere.”


Brooke here.

I’ve been making a list of our projects during the time the Disasterhouse blog was dormant. This… Guys, this is a long list! And I’ve got photos for most of it. Why? Well, this blog for one, but we’re also aiming towards getting the house appraised and Yeah but you should have seen it before! has quite a bit of mental sticking power, even if the appraiser is only supposed to take into account the current condition of the house.

Continue reading “Organization”

The Foundation (Part I)

ETA: The blog is being rebooted as an incentive for my Patreon Supporters. All posts go live after a week, but Supporters at the $10+ tiers get early access. Thank you!

Brooke here. Let’s start tackling the foundation posts, shall we? There’ll be a few of these, since our house was sinking and it’s been an 18-month project to get it back out of the swamp.

Continue reading “The Foundation (Part I)”