Issue 12:  May, 2012 
In This Issue
Upcoming Events
Butterflies and Mimicry
The Prothonotary: Avian perfection
Make your own butterfly haven!

Helpful Links


TYN Website 




Garden Tip #1

Keep an eye on watering everything which is newly planted. It doesn't take much for new little transplants to dry out and die before they have a chance to get established. Check every day for adequate moisture until plants take-off and start to grow. Newly planted trees and shrubs need to be monitored, typically needing deep waterings of 1-2 inches per week. Maintaining adequate moisture is important for good root establishment. Remember to mulch plants to preserve and balance soil moisture.

Garden Tip #2

Deadhead or prune back spent flowers on your perennials. This will manicure your garden and can stimulate re-blooming of delphinum and columbine as well as other perennials.

Does Your Yard Measure Up?

We call it a Tennessee Yard Done Right -- a yard that is in harmony with Tennessee's native flora, soil and topography. You don't have to be an expert gardener or landscaper to create a Tennessee Yard Done Right. All it takes is a willingness to learn and a desire to build a yard that is based on the nine principles found in our TYN handbook: 


1) Right Plant,Right Place


2) Manage Soils and Mulch


3) Appropriate Turf Grass Management


4) Water Efficiently


5) Use Fertilizer Appropriately


6) Manage Yard Pests


7) Reduce Storm Water Runoff and it's Pollutants


8) Provide for Wildlife


9) Protect Water's Edge

To find out more information download our free 
Tennessee Yardstick Workbook 

Garden Tip #3

Thin (by picking off) excess fruits from apple, pear and peach trees to a ratio of one fruit per 6-8 inches of branch.

Garden Tip #4


Direct seed sunflowers in your garden. Consider staggering planting new seeds every week or two

through July so you have flowers until frost.


Water Quiz!

No winner last month?? What, what? Well, that just means you get a second chance to win a TYN rain gauge by answering this month's question!

How much water does the average individual use daily?

a) 30 gallons
b) 50 gallons
c) 20 gallons

Be the first person to email the correct answer to:
Garden Tip #5
May is usually the month for iris and peonies, but most bloomed in April due to our unseasonably warm weather. Deadhead the plants to send more energy to root and rhizome development. You can divide bearded iris anytime after they bloom until August. Peonies should an be divided in September or October after leaves have died back.


Upcoming Events!


Rain Barrel Making Workshop
May 19, 2012 
10:00 AM -1:00 PM 
Location: Farragut Town Hall 
Description & Cost: $35/barrel!!
For $35 you will make and take one rain barrel with all of the needed attachments installed. Also, learn valuable information on how to maintain and use your new rain barrel!
Contact: Fort Loudoun Lake Association at 865-523-3800 or to register
(pre-registration required)


Blooms Days 2012 at UT Gardens
Saturday, May 12th from 9-5 and Sunday, May 13th from 9-5.
Specialty plants, unique garden goods, live musical performances, garden workshops, children's activities and more make the UT Gardens' Blooms Days a great destination for more than just gardeners. Blooms Days has become a summer traditon, drawing families, students, and Knoxville natives to experience the splendor of the gardens.
Find out more here.


Shelby Co. Two-Part TYN Home Landscape Workshop

Dates & Times: June 11th & 12th 2012, 6 pm- 9 pm

Location: Agricenter International, 7777 Walnut Grove Rd. Suite B, Memphis, TN

Description: Take away a nine principle approach to landscaping that is both sensible and kind to the environment. Soil testing, rain gauge, workbook and more are provided!

Class size: Limited to 25

Cost: $35.00 per individual, $50.00 per couple

Registration: Contact Chris Cooper via 901-752-1207 or (Advanced registration required)


Montgomery Co. TYN Home Landscape Workshop

Date & Time: June 23, 2012; 8:30 am - 3:00 pm

Location: Civic Hall in Clarksville, TN

Description: Take away a nine principle approach to landscaping that is both sensible and kind to the environment. Soil testing, rain gauge, workbook and more are provided.

Class size: Limited to 25

Cost: $35.00 per individual, $50.00 per couple (includes lunch)

Registration: Contact Karla Keen via (931) 648-5725 or (Advanced registration required)


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It's May! When did that happen? Well, here at TYN we are making the best of the summer-like weather by enjoying the butterflies and bees getting an early start, flitting from flower to flower.  With that in mind, we have a wonderful line up of articles this month starting with an article on butterflies and mimicry by author Paulette Haywood Ogard and photographer Sara Bright!  We saw these two present at the recent  Native Plant Symposium in Chattanooga and they were wonderful!  They have recently published a book called Butterflies of Alabama, Glimpses into their Lives which is a beautiful collection of photographs and detailed information about the lives of butterflies. Also, this month we have a fantastic article from our very own Lyn Bales about the Prothonotary, a bird that, as Lyn describes, embodies avian perfection.  Finally, do you want to try your hand at attracting butterflies to your yard? Check out our final article on an easy low-maintenance garden with a colorful pallette of native plants that will provide nectar for these fantastic creatures. We hope you enjoy this month's newsletter and don't forget to take the Water Quiz challenge and check our timely garden tips!


Happy Gardening!

The TYN State Management Team

Butterflies and Mimicry: You Coulda Fooled Me
by Paulette Haywood Ogard
Photography by Sara Bright


Spicebush Swallowtail caterpiller

In the world of nature, appearances can be deceiving.  If you open a furled leaf on a Spicebush shrub, the beady eyes that look back at you might belong to a small green snake, or they might adorn a Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar that only appears to be a snake in order to frighten would-be predators.  A sharp knob on the side of a twig might be a thorn, or it might be the Falcate Orangetip's chrysalid, protected until spring when the tiny, winged adult will emerge from its prickly-looking pupal case.  And that dead leaf dangling from a branch?  It might be withered foliage, but it could be a Goatweed Leafwing butterfly, aptly named because its wings so perfectly mimic dry brown leaves.


Why the subterfuge?  Because butterflies, in all their developmental stages, must avoid being eaten if they are to survive long enough to reproduce--and hungry mouths are everywhere! Butterflies have developed numerous predator avoidance responses, but mimicry is one of the most fascinating.

Left image: Goatweed Leafwing butterfly

Right image: Falcate Orangetip's chrysalid


Many butterflies mimic objects that most predators deem inedible.  Since predators are carnivores, butterflies, caterpillars, and even chrysalides often resemble leaves, broken twigs, or other plant parts.  Hungry eyes on a quest for flesh usually overlook them.  Some swallowtail and admiral caterpillars look remarkably like bird droppings, so shiny that they appear fresh and wet! It may seem disgusting, but dung is imitated because excrement is universally shunned as a food source. 


Some butterflies mimic other, inedible, butterflies. Pipevine Swallowtails, Monarchs, and Viceroys are classic examples.  Their caterpillars eat toxic plants, retain poison molecules within their bodies, and become poisonous in their own right.  Even adults are unpalatable.  As many as six non-toxic butterfly species mimic the Pipevine Swallowtail's black-and-blue winged, orange-spotted appearance. Monarchs and Viceroys mimic each other.  Both are distasteful to predators because their larvae eat chemically protected milkweeds and willows, respectively.  The caterpillars of the two species look nothing alike, but the adults' appearance is remarkably similar. Hungry birds get a double whammy and quickly learn to avoid both orange-and-black patterned butterflies.


Top images from left to right: Red-Spotted Purple; Black Swallowtail; Spicebush Swallowtail

Bottom image: Pipevine Swallowtail

We have only scratched the surface of the intricate adaptations involved in predator avoidance through mimicry.  Combined with other techniques like camouflage, toxicity, startle effect, and evasive flight, it's enough to make your head swim.  Or perhaps to share Thornton Wilder's sentiment, "Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you."



Sara Bright is a professional photographer whose work has been featured in Canoe, Southern Living, Birder's World, Outdoor Life, Geo, and Portico, and is on permanent display at McDonald's Corporation, Alabama Power, Wachovia Bank, and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. 


Paulette Haywood Ogard has taught classes on wildflowers and native plants at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and conducted workshops throughout the southeast on wildlife habitats, butterflies, and butterfly gardening. 


To learn more about butterflies and their extraordinary lives check out Paulette and Sara's recent book Butterflies of Alabama; Glimpses into Their Lives


Purchase a copy from the University of Alabama Press 

Stephen Lyn BalesThe prothonotary: as close to avian perfection as nature gets


By Stephen Lyn Bales


If there is one group of birds that everyone oohs and ahhs over, it's the warblers. Even experienced birders will drive hundreds of miles just for the chance of seeing a rare one. In many circles, they are known as the "crown jewels" of American birds.


Prothonotary Warbler

Truth is, they are not actually warblers. Early American explorers misidentified them, but the name is here to stay. To somewhat correct it, the name of the American group was changed to Wood Warbler because most but not all are found in the woods. (The American robin is not a true robin, it's a thrush, but that incorrect moniker stuck as well.)


The funny thing about New World wood warblers is that they do not warble. They are not particularly good singers but rather produce a vocalization described as a "lisp, buzz, hiss, chip, rollick or zip" or various combinations of those wispy sounds.


Although, they may not be the best avian singers, they are undeniably beautiful.  Small and colorful, each species has a different exquisite combination of reds, oranges, yellows, blues, greens, like a giant box of Crayola crayons dropped from Mt. Olympus.


There are a total of 53 wood warbler species found in North America, well 52 if you leave out Bachman's warbler, which is probably extinct. Of the 52, fourteen are western species and 38 are eastern. Of these, 24 species actually nest in our state, although some very sparingly and most retreat to the mountainous regions of the Cumberlands or the Great Smokies.


There is one 24-karat treasure that nests in the lowlands, floodplains and shorelines of the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers. It is so breathtakingly yellow it outshines a school bus and outrivals a lemon. Once known as the golden swamp warbler, the name was changed to prothonotary warbler because its plumage reminded the Louisiana Creoles of the robes worn by the protonotarios, an advisor to the pope in the Catholic Church. And indeed, it's a yellow so sublime, so heavenly; it surely must have a divine provenance.


This gourd placed close to a water source can provide a nice home for a Prothonotary Warbler.

Prothonotary warblers are also the only warbler that are cavity nesters, naturally building their nests in hollow trees or old downy woodpecker holes, which means they can be attracted to a nest box or gourd.   If you live on the river or a stream that feeds into a nearby one, simply place a container (they have even been know to use an old coffee) five to ten feet above the water and hope that this golden ray of sunshine claims your site as its new home. And, if it does, consider yourself blessed.


  • Prothonotaries are the only warbler species that will use a nest box.
  • Their preferred habitat is river shorelines, streams, wetlands or swamps.
  • Prothonotaries can be found along the river shoreline at Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville. 

Stephen Lyn Bales is a senior naturalist at Ijams Nature Center and author of Natural Histories and Ghost Birds published by UT Press. Visit his nature blog at 


Principle Spotlight
#8 Provide for Wildlife
Attracting beneficial wildlife to your yard cuts down on mosquitoes and other pests, and pollinates plants and flowers creating a healthy back yard ecosystem.
Katie Walberg head shotMake your own butterfly haven!
by Katie Walberg



Interested in creating a small butterfly magnet in your yard?  This little 49 sq. ft. garden may do the trick! This garden layout can be used anywhere in your yard where you have average soil and full to moderate sunlight. All the plants featured are perennial and native to Tennessee so they will continue to come back year after year providing a relatively low maintenance, butterfly loving garden.  
Here is a list of the plants and descriptions that correspond with the above layout.


1. Purple Coneflower
Echinacea purpurea
Striking, large flower heads rise above neat clumps of foliage 2 to 3.5 feet tall. The flower heads have light rose rays (petals) and contrasting orange-red centers. At maturity, the rays angle downward and the center assumes a distinct cone shape. Plants are perennial and bloom June through August. Coneflowers seed is good for birds, too.


2. Bee Balm
Monarda didyma
Monardas are plants belonging to the mint family. They have square stems, aromatic foliage and showy, unusual flower heads. They prefer full sun and average to moist soil. Bee Balm has deep red flowers with reddish bracts from July to September. It grows to three feet tall with rich green leaves. This native perennial also attracts  hummingbirds.


3. Butterfly Weed
Asclepias tuberosa
Another native perennial, Butterfly Weed has striking brilliant orange flowers blooming from early to late summer. The flower clusters may be up to 1.5 feet wide, and established plants may form clumps 3 feet wide and 2 feet tall. This perennial does best in full sun and a dry, well-drained location. The monarch butterfly particularly loves this plant and lays eggs that develop into the caterpillar. The caterpillar later forms a chrysalis on the plant from which hatches the mature butterfly. 


4. Wild Ageratum, Mistflower
Conoclinium (Eupatorium) coelestinum
Native perennial with approximately 1'-3' tall flat-topped clusters of small, soft-blue, fuzzy flowers appear amidst the bright green foliage of this perennial Wild Ageratum. It flowers from July through October and prefers sun or partial shade and moisture. 



5. Phlox, Smooth Morris Berd
Phlox glaberrima 'Morris Berd'
'Morris Berd' has bright, rose pink flowers with white eyes for nearly 2 months in late spring to early summer. It grows 18 to 24 inches tall, is densely mounded, and is evergreen. Give this beautiful perennial full sun or part shade, and average soil. 



Find all these plants and more at Sunlight Gardens and special thanks to their great information about each plant.  

Butterfly garden with spring to early summer blooms
Butterfly garden with summer to early fall blooms

Illustrations by Katie Walberg


The above illustrations provide a guide to blooming times and how the garden will look as it matures. This small powerhouse of a garden provides food and shelter for wildlife as well as establishing beautiful native plants in your landscape.


We hope you get out there and start attracting some butterflies to your yards! They are fantastically beautiful creatures that will provide much joy to you, your family and the environment! 


For a downloadable copy of this article with layout grid, plant names and illustrations go to this link: Create your own butterfly garden!



Keep In Touch!
Ruth Anne Hanahan and Dr. Andrea Ludwig
TYN Statewide Co-Directors
Tennessee Water Resources Research Center
University of Tennessee
311 Conference Center
Knoxville, TN 37996
See Ya' Next Month!
Thanks so much for reading!
Check back with us next month for details on our new projects
and more tips on achieving a healthy home landscape.
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