We can’t help but modestly gloat a bit right now, as the monarch loop we had written about a few weeks back is starting to pay off. There are now almost 15 monarchs living in the Joppa Avenue Landscape, hanging out mainly on the Liatris ligulistylis / meadow blazing star, but equally enjoying the Verbena bonariensis / Brazilian verbena, and the Eupatorium purpureum / Joe Pye weed. It’s a veritable monarch zoo, and it flittingly rocks the house.
We are normally not huge fans of annuals, as they simply evoke extra WORK. Having to plant them every spring and tend to them until they get established rarely seems worth it, particularly when so many perennials, grasses, and shrubs can provide just as much visual appeal at a fraction of the effort. In any case, one annual in particular we have fallen in love with, and this is Brazilian verbena. While the springtime planting of them takes a bit of doing, they become established quickly and begin blooming early. Blooming virtually all summer long, they attract countless monarchs, honeybees, and other pollinators to their electric purple flowers. Form-wise, they provide a feathery but pronounced vertical accent within a landscape. When planted in drifts, they create a glowing purple screen that seems to float over the lower-growing plants nearby. Add high drought-tolerance to the list of pluses and you have what amounts to a perfect annual to mix in with your existing perennials and grasses. The butterflies will thank you for planting them, and your neighbors might too.