It’s just about that time of year. In my neck of the woods – north central New England – the snow is finally gone, the daffodils are showing their pale yellow blooms, and the robins are courting in the grass that’s slowly regaining its green. And that means only one thing – it’s time to think about butterfly gardens.

Oh, I supposed that we should have been thinking about our live butterfly gardens for the whole winter. And in some ways I have. My thoughts always come to this website, wondering what information I can provide for visitors that might persuade them to take the plunge and create their own garden for butterflies. I wonder if I’ll have good luck again with raising Monarch butterflies or if (as was the case last year) the eggs were hard to find and full-formed cocoons even harder.

But when Spring finally comes ’round the bend, and I know it’s almost time to put the spade to the earth, that’s when I start to think about my garden in earnest. This year I am hoping to successfully plant some Hollyhock. It’s a good butterfly plant, and one of my favorites anyway. There is something about tall flowers that really appeals to me. We’ve been planting sunflowers ever since we became homeowners, but I’ve never gotten lucky with Hollyhocks.

It’s funny because as much as I love butterflies, I’m not such a hot gardener. For example, it took me a couple of years of failed efforts before I could get a single morning glory to show up. And that was just one blossom that straggled up an old saw horse that I use to keep a wild rose bush erect. Yet it seemed like a real prize-winning moment to me! I’m hoping to repeat that this year with my hollyhocks. I might enlist one of my neighbors who every year manages to have a few peeping over his fence.

I’m also going to get a few kits from Insect Lore. Generally I take a sort of hardcore approach to cultivating butterflies. I like to get whatever visits and not do any supplementing until it’s time to work with my beloved Monarchs. But this year – in part because I know the kids would enjoy it – I’m inclined to but a few butterfly kits and set free some Painted Ladies in the garden. They’ll make their way elsewhere, I’m sure, but it will be fun to play with them in the house for a while.

Finally, every year I tell myself that I’m going to keep a real butterfly journal this year, instead of just promising to. I’m actually going to try and keep that promise this year! I want to track what I plant, what species of butterfly visit, and when they come. I feel like if I can do that for a few years running – instead of just hovering around the garden admiring the butterflies – then I can start to target certain plants. Anyway, I’ve always admired my birder friends who keep track of all the birds that they see from year to year. I want a lifetime list for butterflies!

What are you doing for your butterfly garden? For your butterfly project? Whatever it is, I wish you fun and joy – the only two reasons I know for doing this!