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Butterfly Gardens
Host and Nectar Plants

Tips on Creating a Successful Butterfly Garden

We’re pretty sure when Jeffery Osborne wrote “On the Wings of Love,” in 1982, he was not belting out romanticisms to his beloved, but instead bragging about his beautiful and blossoming butterfly garden. (Of course we may think all ballads have some sort of tie back to gardening) Whether that’s true or not, we’ve compiled some tips on how you can paint your garden with the fluttering frolic of our favorite pollinators. Here are our must-dos for a successful butterfly garden.

Let the Sun Shine- Butterflies love the sun, and so do successful pollinator plants, so plan your garden in an area that promotes bountiful amounts of beams.

It Takes Two to Make a Thing go Right – There are two types of plants you will need to be successful:

  • Host Plants- These plants are ideal for butterflies to lay their eggs on. Milkweed is the most popular and McDonald Garden Center offers a number of varieties. We recommend using a few different types tomaximize your potential.
  • Nectar Plants- Butterflies are drawn to nectar-producing plants like marigold, rhododendron, blackberry, etc. They are also drawn to color, especially red, orange, yellow, and purple. Plant them in groups of 3 to make them easier to see.

Thirst Quenchers- Butterflies need shallow puddles to drink from. Some birdbaths actually have design elements that encourage puddles. Another alternative is to plant your garden in an area where water naturally collects.

Be Diverse- Diversify the landscape. Butterflies have very delicate wings which are easily damaged by wind. Planting larger plants like broad-leafed trees and/or conifers shield your pollinator plants and provides a welcoming and safe environment.

Care and Maintenance- Water often until the roots get established. If your soil is acidic, or particularly sandy (which many in Hampton Roads are) we suggest adding compost or using nutrient rich topsoil. gardenReward members get FREE soil testing.

Be Eco-Friendly- You should avoid using pesticides when possible that will harm or kill the butterflies you worked so hard to attract. McDonald Garden Center offers a number of organic solutions.

Butterflies are a beautiful and welcome addition to any garden. Lacking space? Use containers or planters to create your butterfly garden. Pollinator plants need lots of room, so just get a pot large enough to accommodate them.

Six Tips for Blueberry Success

By Eddie Anderson, Owner

Thinking about growing backyard blueberries? Stick to these six simple tips and with proper care, these sweet treats will reward you for years to come!

  1. Test the soil and adjust to a pH 4.5 – 5.5
  2. Mix peat moss in the soil around the plants
  3. Plant 2 or more varieties in the same class
  4. Cover the soil with 4” of mulch
  5. As berries ripen use bird net to protect the crop
  6. Once mature remove old canes.

Test the soil and adjust to a pH 4.5 – 5.5
When the pH is above five, the blueberry plants become stunted and do not become vigorous enough to set good crops of berries. McDonald offers 2 solutions for acidifying the soil. Soil Sulfur is the best for long term adjustment of pH. Soil acidifier is good for quick adjustment of soil pH, however, it may cause aluminum toxicity in blueberries. (
Sulfur must be applied in the spring or summer, since it requires bacterial activity to convert the sulfur to an active form. Soil acidifier is water soluble and thus works more quickly. McDonald Garden Center offers soil test kits for home garden use, and Garden Rewards members can get free pH soil test at any of our locations.

Mix peat moss in the soil around the plants
Peat moss is an excellent source of organic matter. It helps loosen clay soil for development of the very fibrous roots of blueberries. Peat moss helps sandy soils retain moisture and improves soil nutrient capacity. At the same time, it is a natural soil acidifier. Old leaf mold, old sawdust, lime free compost and bark fines are other sources of organic matter that can be used. Any compost that has had lime used in the composting process (Magill Compost as well as most composted cow manure products is an example) will have a negative effect as a soil amendment and should not be used.

Plant two or more varieties
Research has shown that yields of fruit are up to 25% higher with good cross pollination among varieties of the same species of blueberries. There are several species of Blueberries (Vaccinium) that produce good, edible fruit. The species we deal in are:
Vaccinium virgatum (rabbiteye blueberry; syn. V. ashei)
Vaccinium corymbosum (northern highbush blueberry)
Vaccinium angustifolium (lowbush blueberry)
The pollen from one species generally does not ripen at the same time or is not compatible with another species. Therefore you must use two varieties from the same species to get the benefit of increased yields. Plant breeders have found ways to cross species. These crosses produce large fruit on compact plants that make them easy to protect from birds.

Cover the soil with 4-inches of mulch
Research by the leading universities in zone 5-8 have shown that yields of blueberries will increase up to 30% when the soil has 4-inches of mulch cover. The roots of blueberries, like other ericaceous plants like azaleas, rhododendron and heathers, are very fine and fibrous. The mulch helps hold the moisture around the roots. It helps keep the soil cooler during the summer and warmer in the winter. In addition, bark mulches add organic matter as they decay and tend to acidify the soil. Be sure that the mulch does not develop a crust layer on the surface that sheds water. Fruit size is diminished when the roots dry out during periods of drought.

As berries ripen, use a bird net to protect the crop
It may not happen in the first few years of production, but eventually the birds will learn just how good those little blueberries are. I have had excellent success with a bird net cover. It is necessary to have a frame to keep the net off of the plants. The berries easily get caught in the net and pop off.

Once mature, remove old canes.
As the canes mature the productivity declines. Removing these canes stimulates the production of new ones from the root of the plant. This keeps the plant in the juvenile stage and extents the life of the plant. The young canes are much more productive. Remove about 1/3 of the volume of the plant during the winter each year on healthy plants.

Be sure to visit any McDonald Garden Center or Garden Market this Memorial Day weekend, for Flavor Fest, May 24-29, 2017, for juicy deals on all things edibles.


Preventing a Deer Buffet

Ah, deer. Gentle, majestic woodland royalty. Or hosta-eating road hazards, depending on your point of view.

Most gardeners have a tortured relationship with deer. We don’t have anything against them except for the fact that they eat everything in sight. Repellants can work, but you need to apply them regularly. A deer fence will keep them out, but is often impractical. What’s a gardener to do?

You can start by choosing plants that deer don’t like, though there’s no such thing as a deer-proof plant. Hungry deer will eat anything. But you can make your yard less appealing than the daylily buffet next door. Not very neighborly, I know, but you can make it up to them with a nice bouquet from your cutting garden.

Deer avoid plants with fuzzy leaves and those that are strongly aromatic. Some gardeners have success planting catnip, lavender and thyme; their strong scent can deter deer from eating more desirable plants growing nearby. Daffodils are also unappealing to deer, and can act as an early season deterrent. The world always needs more daffodils, anyway.

Although deer do not like prickly leaves, they aren’t bothered by rose thorns. So don’t plan on a rose hedge as a good barrier. Barberries, on the other hand, are seldom eaten. They’ll keep the jealous neighbors out of your cutting garden, too.Unfortunately, deer like new plant growth. So that new bed filled with lush, tender plants is very tempting to whitetails. Even plants that are not especially tasty to deer can be appealing when they are leafing out. You may want to invest in some deer repellant for these plantings, at least until their new growth has hardened off.

Plants that are unappealing to deer include Forsythia, Viburnum, Spiraea, and Syringa (lilac). Working with these plants will give you a good start on a garden with season-long color. Add some Juniperus and you’ve got year-round appeal. Rutgers University has an excellent reference that rates the deer resistance of landscape plants.

Remember that hungry deer will eat just about anything. Winter and early spring are the lean times when deer are most likely to eat your plants. In fall they are bulking up for winter, and are especially voracious. In summer time, when the living is easy, they are much more selective. Whatever you do, don’t feed them. They won’t eat your offerings and leave the landscape alone; they’ll learn to come to your place for dinner. And the day you don’t have a nice spread waiting for them is the day they will turn to your new hydrangea planting instead. Besides, feeding deer isn’t healthy for them. It’s often not the nutrition they need, and can contribute to the spread of disease.

If deer are a serious problem in your landscape, it may be time to call in the professionals. McDonald Garden Center offers a variety of treatment options. These repellants won’t hurt the deer and will allow you to enjoy your yard without the frustration of seeing flowers eaten just before they bloom.

Content & images provided by Proven Winners

Pork Filet MIgnon stuffed with Mushrooms and Basil.
Simmer mushrooms, basil leaves, garlic and shallots.
Cut the pork filet in half horizontally and season to taste.
Fill filet with the mushroom mixture and add parmesan and basil leaves.
Close the filet mignon and wrap with bacon.
Wonderful served with steamed asparagus and baby red potatoes or rice.
Burpee Pesto Basil

Pork Filet Mignon Stuffed with Mushrooms and Basil

Cuisine de Jardin with Chef Manu - Pork Filet Mignon Stuffed with Mushrooms and Basil

This moist, succulent pork filet mignon is stuffed with a finely minced blend of sautéed mushrooms, pesto basil, shallots and garlic and wrapped in bacon. Flavor notes abound, this recipe is sure to please. Perfect for an elegant and romantic dinner for two or for a special occasion that will make your next celebration even more festive. Wonderful served with steamed asparagus and baby red potatoes or rice.


  • 1 pork filet mignon
  • 1 box of white mushrooms
  • Burpee pesto basil
  • parmesan
  • 10 slices of bacon
  • 1 garlic cloves
  • 1 shallot
  • salt and pepper


  1. Chop the mushrooms, basil (10 leaves), garlic and shallots.
  2. In a pan with olive oil, reduce the mushrooms down and let cool.
  3. Cut the filet mignon in half, horizontally, and season to taste.
  4. Fill filet with the mushroom mix and add parmesan and basil leaves.
  5. Close the filet mignon and wrap with the bacon.
  6. Bake at 390 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Dress it up with this creamy sauce: reduce 3 cups of heavy cream with 1/2 cup of parmesan, salt and pepper.