About a month ago, I was invited by Nalls Produce in Franconia (Fairfax), Virginia, to attend one of their gardening classes. I wasn’t able to make the herb class that I was invited to, but I was very graciously invited to attend the Plants for Butterflies and Hummingbirds class instead. I had no idea that Nalls offered classes until about three days before they contacted me, so I was especially excited to have been invited.
The classroom, as it turns out, is a shade structure at the back of the property. Not what I was expecting, but it turned out to work well for the most part. We were surrounded by inventory, so the space was quite lovely. The only downside: it was unseasonably hot that day (average high temperatures in our part of the world at the beginning of June are in the low-80s. That day was 97 degrees!). Nalls staff made sure we had plenty of fans in the classroom space, and plenty of water and snacks. All in all, the space was completely tolerable.
Ann, our instructor for the evening, had set up at table at the front of the space with all kinds of hummingbird- and butterfly-friendly plants and started by introducing herself and giving us a short preview of the class. I liked that the first thing Ann talked about after the intro was the life cycle of the butterfly and how their life cycle and body structure dictate what flowers they prefer. I’d learned much of what Ann talked about in events at other organizations, but it seemed to me that many of the people in the class were hearing this for the first time. Ann talked about a lot of different things in this class, including hummingbirds and their life cycle, the use of natural and organic fertilizers to keep your garden as healthy and safe for wildlife.
Ann also discussed the importance of using low/lower impact pesticides in your wildlife garden, and incorporating both annuals and perennials in the landscape. I grow a few annuals (Cosmos, Nasturtiums, etc.), but I forget at how many are really easy to grow from seed. Many annuals are prolific reseeders, so I won’t have to plant them again for a while.
The class is an excellent introduction to gardening for butterflies and hummingbirds and is a great choice for beginners in this type of gardening (or gardening in general). I would definitely recommend it to others if it is offered again. I’m definitely not a newbie to many of the topics discussed in the class, but I learned several new things about hummingbirds (Did you know that hummers can fly up to 60 miles an hour??) and butterflies. I also learned about some plants for increasing wildlife that I never would have expected, like impatiens and petunias. I always thought they were trash plants – who knew??
Other aspects of the class that I should mention: each attendee received a free plant related to the class (I chose Bronze Fennel, which I don’t like to eat and I will be happy to give up to the Swallowtail babies.) and a 10% discount on plant purchases that night. I believe that this is standard for Nalls classes.
There aren’t any classes listed on the Nalls website currently, but I have been told that more are in the works. You can sign up for the Nalls Produce Newsletter and you’ll find out when the classes are available. You’ll also receive the occasional coupon too; I’m just sayin’.