In the garden both the tall fragrant Valerian and the Ninebark shrub have come into bloom, and they attract the butterflies like no other plants in our garden all summer long. So for a week or two we will see plenty of butterflies fluttering about the garden, one of my favourite times of the year.
The largest and most attractive of these at the moment is the White Admiral. We have 3 or 4 fluttering around most of the time.
As it flashes past, the under-wings look mostly black except for the strong white bar. But if you get it against the light a little, the beautiful multi-coloured pattern shows through.
The single most common one is actually a moth, not a butterfly, as you can tell by its feathery antennae. It's the Virginia Ctenucha moth (pronounced 'tenooka'), and I can easily see a dozen in 2 minutes.
Northern Crescents are also very common at this time of year. Somewhat variable in pattern, these bright little orange butterflies are all around.
We've had a Viceroy too, distinguished from the later Monarch by that black bar running across the veins, and dividing the lower wing from front to back.
This picture gives you an idea of how many butterflies are fluttering around at the same time. Miraculously the Northern Crescent flying past the Viceroy was also in focus! An unintentional bonus!
And these are the two plants that account for all this beauty. This is Valerian, with a very slight pink shade, and dozens of flowers on each flower head, about 5-6 feet tall. Valerian is an annual which reseeds itself each year, moving around the garden as it regrows. Knowing now that it's both the most fragrant flower of the entire season, and the most attractive to butterflies, we let it grow where it chooses to. In every one of the pictures above, the butterfly (or moth) is sitting on a Valerian blossom.
The other is our Ninebark shrub, now out in bloom. It is also attracting all these butterflies, but is a little harder to get photographs around. It will just buzz with butterflies, Ctenucha moths and bees for the next two weeks.