Garden Styles



To plant a garden is to believe in the future. To sit and watch the graceful flight of the butterflies is to appreciate the fleeting moments of time.

Creating a Butterfly Garden involves planning your garden to attract, retain and encourage butterfly populations to visit. If you enjoy viewing and admiring these fascinating creatures, a Butterfly Garden is for you.

 Butterflies of Illinois: This is a partial list of the more than 150 species of butterflies that visit our Illinois gardens: American Painted Lady, American Snout, Buckeye, Emperors, Great Spangled Fritillary, Leafwings, Monarch (Illinois state insect), Mourning Cloak, Question Mark, Red Admiral, Red-Spotted Purple, Black Swallowtail, Pipevine Swallowtail, Spicebush Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail, Viceroy

Since the number of Monarch butterflies that migrate from the United States and Canada, to spend the winter in Mexico, has dropped dramatically in recent years, it is more important than ever to provide habitats for not only the Monarchs, but for the many species of butterflies that inhabit and grace our gardens.  Before they’re butterflies, these fascinating creatures are caterpillars, so it is necessary to provide food for both. Along with larval plants for caterpillars and nectar plants for butterflies, it is also essential to understand the other basic needs for their survival.

Light Conditions: Since most of the larval and nectar plants needed by butterflies thrive in full sun, it is necessary to design your butterfly garden in a sunny location.

Shelter: Butterflies are vulnerable to wind and rain, so plan your garden with windbreaks in mind. Use taller plants in the back of the garden or plant against a wall or sheltered spot. Butterflies also like to rest in sunny locations, so the use of rocks or gravel pathways  will provide a warm dry resting spot.

Moisture: A dip in a rock, the crags of ladys’ mantle or moist sand are places where rain or dew puddle, which attract butterflies,  so that they can take in nutrients and salts.

No Pesticides: Pesticides destroy insects, including butterflies. A pesticide free butterfly garden will increase the chances of survival  of these remarkable species.

Plant Material: It is especially important to have blooming flowers in mid to late summer, when most butterflies are active in our region.  Since each species of butterflies has its own nectar and larval plants, it is also important to have a wide variety of plants for them to choose from. This way, you’ll definitely be attracting more than one type of butterfly.

Nectar Plants-Annual: Cosmos, Impatiens, Lantana, Marigold, Nicotiana, Oregano, Passion flower, Pentas, Petunias, Snapdragon,  Verbena, Zinnia

Nectar Plants-Perennial: Asclepias, Aster, Agastache, Baptisia, Centranthus, Chelone, Coreopsis, Dianthus, Echinacea, Eupatorium, Gaillardia, Leucanthemum, Liatris, Lonicera, Malva, Monarda, Nepeta, Phlox, Rudbeckia, Scabiosa, Sedum, Solidago, Yarrow

Nectar Shrubs/Trees: Buddleia, Redbud, Rose of Sharon, Spriaea, Summersweet, Viburnum

Remember- larval plants are food sources for the caterpillars, so be prepared to see chewed leaves on several of these plants. You may want to plant some of these in a less visible section of the butterfly garden, but not too far away from the nectar plants.

Larval Plants: Asclepias, Carrots, Dill, False Nettle, Fennel, Hollyhock, Parsley, Snapdragons, Sunflower, Trifolium, Loosestrife, Violets

Host or Larval Shrubs/Trees: Apple, Ash, Birch, Cherry, Elms, Poplars, Pussy Willow, Wild Cherry, Willow




I perhaps owe having become a painter to Flowers. – Claude Monet

The Cottage Garden, also referred to as English Country Garden, is typically small, compact,  full and brimming with flowering cottage garden plants. For those who love to garden and enjoy the informal look of a garden as if nature has scattered its seed to paint the various tapestries of color, the Cottage Garden may be your style.  At first glance, the Cottage Garden appears to be haphazard and abundant with flowers in every nook and cranny, but in fact, it is thoughtfully planned according to the choice of colors, plant height, size and bloom time. The gardener’s personality is expressed by these artistic choices of color schemes, plant material and placement. Here are just a few plant selections suited for the Cottage Garden:

Annuals: Allysum, Angelonia, Aster, Calibrachoa, Chrysanthemum, Cleome, Cosmos, Dahlia, Dianthus, Double Impatiens, Geraniums, Impatiens, Lantana, Lisianthus, Lobelia, Nemesia, Pansy, Penta, Phlox, Reiger Begonia, Blue Salvia, Scaveola, Snapdragon, Zinnia

Perennials: Arabis, Anemone, Aquilegia, Aurinia, Campanula, Delphinium, Dicentra, Foxglove, Geranium, Hardy Hibiscus, Helleborus, Hemerocallis, Hollyhocks, Iris, Lavender, Leucanthemum, Myositis, Oenthera, Penstemon, Peony, Phlox, Platycodon, Scabiosa, Stokesia, Trollius

Vines: Akebia, Clematis, Honeysuckle, Roses,

Shrubs: Barberry, Boxwood, Clethra, Deutzia, Hydrangea, Lilac, Mock Orange, Rose of Sharon, Roses, Spirea, Viburnum, Weigela,




Where Art and Nature collaborate to create Serenity

If you want your outdoor space to impart a sense of balance with Nature, a feeling of Tranquility and Calm, a Zen Garden may be the garden for you.

Essential Elements: Stones or Rocks, Water or Sand and the carefully selected use of Trees, Evergreen Shrubs and judiciously placed Perennials. At first glance, the Zen Garden is very simple, yet when one understands the concepts behind the placement of each of the elements, the appreciation for the Zen Garden as a true Art Form evolves.

Stones or Rocks, giving a sense of permanence and eternity to the garden are the single most important elements in the Zen Garden. The height, form and direction of placement are carefully considered. Odd number groups balance in their asymmetry and the unequallness attracts the eye.

Water or Sand symbolize the ever changing, free flowing nature of life. In Oriental gardens without ponds or water features, sand and fine gravels are used to create a metaphor for water. Sand in the Zen Garden can be raked in swirls to impart a feeling of raging or gentle lapping water, depending on their design. Water is a changing element that responds to the slightest breeze, mirrors the sky and reflects images of objects around it. Moving water also functions to cool the air in the surrounding area by evaporation.

Plant Material in the traditional Zen Garden are minimal and chiefly green with hardly any flowering plants. Here are just a few suggestions for plant material that are more commonly available.

Trees: Flowering Cherry, Cypress, Dogwood, Gingko, Hemlock, Japanese Maples, Oaks, Pines, Redbuds, Spruce,Willow

Shrubs: Azaleas, Bamboo, Barberry, Euonymus, Holly, Hydrangea, Juniper, Magnolia, Rhododendron

Vines: Akebia, Clematis, Honeysuckle, Wisteria

Perennials: Anemone, Carex, Chrysanthemum, Fern, Gentian, Hakonechloa Grass, Hosta, Iris, Liriope, Moss, Peony





When the well is dry, we know the worth of water. – Benjamin Franklin

If your time is limited and you want a low maintenance garden, a Xeriscape Garden that requires low to minimal water usage may the answer for you.  The Xeriscape Garden is the use of drought tolerant, minimal care plant material with the practice of water conservation as the main focus.  Xeriscape or Waterwise gardens are becoming ever more popular, because of the changing climate conditions that have been experienced over the years. You can still have a colorful garden with the proper selection of plants that will tolerate low to minimal water usage. All plants require some water, but there are many that prefer drier soil conditions. Here are a few selections of annuals, perennials and shrubs that prefer drier soil conditions:

Annuals: Ageratum, Alyssum, Begonia, Coleus, Chrysocephalum, Dianthus, Dusty Miller, Lantana, Lisianthus,  Lobelia, Osteospermum, Penta, Portulaca, Purslane, Scaveola, Verbena, Vinca, Zinnia

Perennials: Achillea, Agastache, Arabis, Artemesia, Aurinia, Coreopsis, Delosperma, Dianthus, Echinacea, Geum, Hemerocallis, Lavender, Liatris, Malva, Myosotis, Monarda, Nepeta, Oenthera, Penstemon, Pulmonaria, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Scabiosa, Sedum, Sempervivum, Stokesia, Veronica, Yucca

Perennials Grasses: Most all grasses prefer drier soils

Native Perennials: Most all natives are drought tolerant

Shrubs: Azalea, Barberry, Caryopteris, Deutzia, Euonymus, Itea, Juniper, Lespedeza, Physocarpus




“We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations the important thing is not to achieve, but to strive.”- Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

If you want to provide a habitat that will attract birds and butterflies to your garden and will require minimal care and watering, a Prairie Garden may be the answer for you.

Most of the land in the northern two-thirds of Illinois is flat. The movement of glaciers through what is now Illinois shaped our land. Four major glaciers covered parts of Illinois during its past, the last about 12,000 years ago. One of the glaciers traveled almost as far south as present day Carbondale. Weather conditions in Illinois over thousands of years helped determine that prairies would exist in our state. Climate in prairies is characterized by hot, dry summers and cold winters. When these conditions developed about 8,300 years ago, the tall grass prairie became a major part of the Illinois landscape. In 1820, Illinois had 22 million acres of prairie land  and 14 million acres of forests. By 1900, most of Illinois prairies were gone, the majority of land was converted for the use of agricultural practices.

Benefits: There are many reasons for re-establishing our prairie lands. To name just a few: providing habitats for the many birds, butterflies and other insects, small mammals and reptiles that inhabit these sites and that are now being threatened and endangered in Illinois.  The prairie consists of grasses and forbs (wildflowers) that once established, develop deep root systems that help with erosion control, require minimal maintenance and are drought tolerant. Here are just a few of the hundreds of plant species that thrive on our prairies:

Native Forbs (Wildflowers): Asclepias incarnata, Aster azureus, Baptisia leucantha, Chelone glabra, Coreopsis palmata, Dalea purpurea, Echinacea pallida, Eryngium yuccifolium, Geranium maculatum, Helenium autumnale, Liatris pycnostachya, Monarda fistulosa, Parthenium integrifolium, Penstemon digitalis, Phlox glaberrima, Ruellia humilis, Silphium laciniatum, Solidago speciosa, Stylophorum diphyllum,  Veronicastrum virginicum

Native Grasses: Agropyron trachycaulum, Andropogon gerardii (Big Blue Stem-Illinois State Prairie Grass), Andropogon scoparius,  Bouteloua cutipendula, Carex grayi, muskingumensis, pensylvanica and stricta, Eragrostis spectabilis, Panicum virgatum, Sporobolus heterolepsis, Sorgastrum nutans

Where to visit a Tall Grass Prairie Garden in Illinois: Whitledge Flowers has established a ten acre Tall Grass Prairie Garden in Edelstein, Il.  They have been certified by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources as a Friend Of Wildlife in recognition for their efforts to insure the future of wildlife through habitat improvement and preservation. The best times to visit a prairie garden is in late summer and early fall when most of the grasses  and forbs are in bloom.