Garden in Hampton Roads with coneflowers and other butterfly-attracting perennials

Yum, yum. Mac 'n' Cheese and Tomato Soup, the names for coneflowers, make you think of good things to eat.

In reality they are because the butterflies in your garden will like sipping their nectar.

The coneflowers — a stunning golden and tomato-red color, respectively — will be among the rare and unusual plants for sale at Norfolk Botanical Garden's Mother's Day weekend plant sale from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Coneflowers are the easiest, most rewarding perennials you can grow in a garden, and their flat flower surfaces provide perfect perches for butterflies. Full of flowers throughout the summer, coneflowers grow in the ground or a container. Give them full sun, consistent moisture and well-draining soil. Coneflowers grow 24 to 40 inches tall, so plant them in the center or the back of a flowering bed. Deadhead, or remove old blooms to encourage new buds. Late summer, let the flowers form seed heads as a source of natural food for migrating songbirds.

Other unique plants at the botanical garden's sale include Edgy Hearts hydrangea with pinkish-red flowers edged in white; 40 different names cultivates of Japanese iris; pagoda flower with clusters of scarlet flowers; coral honeysuckle for hummingbirds; Cranberry Crush hibiscus with near black buds; Rosa Oso Easy Flower Carpet rose with single, pink fragrant flowers; and summersweet with mid-summer, fragrant white flowers.

Admission to the plant sale is free with garden admission. The 155-acre botanical garden is located on Azalea Garden Road, adjacent to Norfolk International Airport. The Virginia Camellia and Tidewater Rose societies sell their plants all weekend; the Virginia Native Plant Society sells native species on Saturday. For details, visit www.norfolkbotanicalgarden.org or call 441-5830.

You also can find the coneflowers at local garden centers, including Countryside Gardens in Hampton; call 722-9909.

Gardening online

My new gardening blog features gardening news, tips and events on a daily basis. You can learn what's happening in my yard, meet other interesting gardeners and be the first to learn about new plants arriving at local garden centers. Giveaways will be offered occasionally, and you can ask questions through the "comments" section. Visit www.dailypress.com/digginblog.

Art in the Garden

Artists display and sell their work 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 16 at Ken Mattews Garden Center in York County. Sign up for garden tours at www.kenmatthewsgardencenter.com.

What Kathy's growing

I recently added more plants to my 3Bs garden — butterflies, bees and birds. Each year, I rearrange, delete or add to this garden, while other areas in the yard pretty much stay the same.

I picked up another Blue Chip butterfly bush, a species that stays compact and small — 2-3 feet tall and wide — but blooms prolifically. You can grow the plant in a big pot on your deck, too.

I also brought home white-flowering Ice Ballet swamp milkweed; red-flowering Queen Victoria cardinal flower (with maroon foliage); and purple-flowering Zebrina hollyhock.

They join my Joe-pye weed, lantana, Black and Blue salvia, bee balm, Shasta daisies, coreopsis, lavender and Knock Out roses. This past weekend, I put in masses of dark purple Wave petunias that spread and spread, inviting butterflies to sit and sip a while.

For a new bird bath, Ken hauled home an interesting slab of wood as a base for a 24-inch-wide, 2-inch-deep, turquoise-glazed pottery bowl we found at a local garden center.

What's happening in your yard? E-mail me at kvanmullekom@dailypress.com.

Get daily gardening tips at www.dailypress.com/digginblog and at www .HRHomeandGarden.com. E-mail Kathy at kvanmullekom@dailypress. Only online •Kathy's new gardening blog at www.dailypress.com/digginblog •Online chat about growing tomatoes and other summer vegetables with York extension agent Jim Orband noon-1 p.m. Wednesday, May 12, at www.dailypress.com
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