I Traded in my Shoe Addiction for Blue Porterweeds

Once we went on lockdown, I went into survival mode and like many parents out there, I started to lose it for a bit.

By: Liangy Calli

I traded in my shoe addiction for Blue porterweed. Sort of. Let’s just say that with Covid-19, I cut way back on “that kind” of spending. In particular, my obsession with shoes has been placed on hold. Okay, who am I kidding, my obsession with shopping has been placed on hold all together. Once we went on lockdown, I went into survival mode and like many parents out there, I started to lose it for a bit. Most of us stopped sleeping, became compulsive organizers, bakers, and obsessed about how this would affect our children. After a month of angst on fumes, something had to give. 

On my quest to find sanity outside my home of six and three furry babies, I found my garden or I should say, lack thereof. Thanks to a good friend, with the best of green thumbs, I started with cucumbers that never came to be. I watched every video on how to get those suckers to grow, tried everything, including hand-pollination. I am still laughing about that, but the matter of no bees in sight was far from funny. I became obsessed with bringing bees to my garden and eventually ran across a Bound by Beauty blog post that led me to beautiful butterflies and other essential pollinators. The connection was instant. Native plants like Blue porterweed, Scarlet Sage, Heliotropes, Lantanas, Shiny Leaf Wild Coffee, Ageratums and Scorpion Tails became my new therapeutic shopping spree. Endangered ones are a plus.

I became obsessed with the purple flowers of native Blue porterweed.

“My garden needed life and the silver lining of the pandemic allowed for plenty of dedication and obsession.”

Horace's duskywing butterfly on Privet senna

I fell into another world, stripping me of my former “shopaholic” self. It was a call to transformation; and, with the same beautiful showy colors, and “cheeky” names, shopping for natives was an easy sell. My garden needed life and the silver lining of the pandemic allowed for plenty of dedication and obsession. 100% immersed in gardening chats, following every native plant and butterfly social page, watching and reading about the best butterfly garden practices, attending workshops, every detail I could find led the way and when applying the knowledge to my garden - it is so rewarding. Pretty funny considering a year ago, pre-Covid, I would not have been caught dead digging holes in the dirt, having face offs with slugs, hand pollinating flowers or out in the heat ruining the perfect blow dry. Now, all I do is incessantly pine for my garden - in Birkenstocks no less.

A tiny Cassius blue butterfly on native Scorpiontail.

We have a small garden, but now it is filled with so much life you would never know it. I started with a safe collection of natives and before long it was a weekly purchase of babies. Some non-natives slipped in there too. I was hooked. The education is endless and watching the garden change little by little is magic. I did not plant anything in the ground right away. I gave them a chance to grow out a little, see if they were happy in their space. There were many things to consider, nectar plants, host plants, location, season, size…Every square foot of my garden had/has a plan. I was fortunate, our garden was pretty much a clean canvas. It was exciting to design, plan and let the plants settle to their new space. The anticipation built immediately and I was soon checking constantly. Is it possible to check one too many times? 

Today, with a somewhat established garden, Monarchs, Zebras, Julias, Swallowtails, Sulphurs, Gulf Fritillary, Cassius Blues, and Skippers dwell in our garden. Everyday is an adventure for me and my family. It affords us all an escape, a connection with the nature under our noses. It is a gift, a much needed perspective and a top priority for us.  It's funny: growing up I had no interest in gardening.  Saturday mornings were declared lawn day at my house, with an 8 am wake up call that I dreaded.  I would lie in bed and pray for rain under the covers.  Nowadays, I cannot wait to get outside.  How my father chuckles at the change! 



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