Flying Flowers Garden

The Flying Flowers Garden is designed to attract hummingbirds and butterflies (our colorful flying flowers).

Come to the garden to see hummingbirds zip from flower to flower. See butterflies soar above the blooms.

A generous grant from the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon made possible the variety and labeling of plants and installation of a drip irrigation system.

Download our Attracting Butterflies Flyer to learn more about making your own butterfly garden, including a full plant list!


The primary food for adult butterflies is nectar from flowers. Adult butterflies do not have mouth parts to chew with, instead they sip their nourishment through a straw-like tube called a proboscis. Some butterflies will also sip nutrients from other sources such as sap, dung, carrion, fruit and mud puddles.

Some Favorite Nectar Sources: Butterfly Bush (Buddleia*), Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa columbaria), Giant Hyssop (Agastache), Lavender, Oregano, Globe Amaranthus (Gomphrena globosa), and Marigold (Tagetes).

*The Butterfly Bush is becoming a pest in Pacific Northwest riparian areas due to reseeding. Please be sure to cut off and discard dead butterfly bush flowers before they go to seed.

Below are some of the nectar plants that you’ll see at our butterfly garden:

Anaphalis margaritacea Pearly Everlasting
Arctostaph uva-ursi
Aster novi-belgii
New England Aster
Coreopsi grandiflora ‘Early Sunrise’ Coreopsis Early Sunrise
Epilobium augustifolium
Gaillardia aristata
Blanket Flower
Gaultheria shallon
Hibiscus syriacus
Rose of Sharon
Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Snowcap’ Shasta Daisy
Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Violet’ Violet Blazing Star
Lychnis coronaria
Rose Campion

Photos courtesy of Charles A. Brun, Ph.D., Horticulture Advisor, Washington State University

You can’t have butterflies without caterpillars. Caterpillars are the larval stage of butterflies and they chew on plant parts; leaves, stems flower buds and petals. A good butterfly garden has plants just for the caterpillars, with the gardener not worrying about the damage that the caterpillars cause.

Different species of butterflies lay their eggs on different species of plants. The Milbert’s Tortoiseshell caterpillar will only eat nettles, the Fritillary caterpillars will only eat violas, and the Monarch caterpillars will only eat milkweeds. Plants that are used as food for caterpillars are referred to as larval host plants. For a list of butterflies in Clark County and their larval host plants, go to The North American Butterfly Association’s Western Washington page.

Below are some of the Larval Hosts Plants that are in our garden. Beneath each image is the name of the plant, the common name of the plant, then the butterfly whose caterpillar uses the plant as it’s larval host plant. In some cases there are more than one type of caterpillar that will use a particular plant.


Anaphalis margaritacea
Pearly Everlasting
American Lady, Painted Lady
Arctostaph uva-ursi
Brown Elfin
Cornus stolonifera
Red Twig Dogwood
Spring Asure
Dicentra Formosa
Western Bleeding Heart
Clodius Parnassian
Gaultheria shallon
Mariposa Copper


Photos courtesy of Charles A. Brun, Ph.D., Horticulture Advisor, Washington State University

Several local butterflies will land at mud puddles, or the edges of ponds or creeks. Swallowtail are noted for this. They can get certain minerals that have leached from the soil at these spots.

If you have a natural mud puddle or area in your garden that collects water, then you’re set. If not, you can create one by making a depression in the soil where water is likely to collect, such as under a drip system dripper or at a hose faucet, and allow that are to remain damp. Another method that has been tried is burying a bucket up to it’s lip in the garden and filling it with soil or sand and keeping that wet. Butterflies will more likely use these mud puddles if they are situated in the sun and are sheltered from wind.

Some butterflies, at various life stages, will use brush piles for shelter, whether during a storm, overnight, or for the whole winter.

You can create a simple brush pile for them, and other wildlife, by piling logs, 3 or more to a layer, several layers high. Intersperse the layers with twigs and leafy branches, maybe even part of a board or tarp. This type of pile should create lots of crevices that stay dry.

Butterflies and caterpillars will also take shelter in tall grasses and in leaf litter near their nectar or larval host plants, so let some grasses grow tall and leave some cleanup chores until spring.