W4W: Harmony

When I garden my aspiration is to find harmony with nature. Plants and structures are chosen with a specific purpose in mind. They provide food, water, shelter, or a place to raise young. This applies to the birds, pollinators, insects and gardener alike.

Chipmunk, Squirrel and Mourning Dove living in harmony

The purpose of Mother Nature's design is survival. Each species has their own unique characteristic(s) that helps facilitate its survival. Color is one such characteristic that plays an important role in the survival of plants and animals.


Plants and pollinators have evolved together and have a symbiotic relationship. The color of a flower exists not for our pleasure but for the benefit of the pollinators who aid in the fruit production and hence the continued survival of the plant and subsequently the survival of the pollinators. They work in harmony.

Bee and St. Johns Wort

Most insects don't see longer wave lengths of light (red) at all or as well as they, see shorter wavelengths of light (blue, violet, UV).

Bees for example are attracted to colors on the blue end of the spectrum (violets, blues, yellows and whites). Blooms that look yellow to us appear blue to bees and bees are particularly attracted to the color blue.

On the other hand, bees can't see the color red. To them it appears as a black void. That is not to say that you won't see insects pollinating flowers that they can't see. Other characteristics such as the shape of the blooms or smell can also attract pollinators to the blooms.

Bee on Beebalm

Butterflies are particularly attracted to red, yellow, orange, pink and purple.

Painted Lady on Yarrow

Pipevine Swallowtail on Lantana

But, color attraction can vary by species. The Zebra Swallowtail for example is especially attracted to white blooms.

Zebra Swallowtail on Heuchera
Some plants have evolved with patterns of contrasting colors with stripes or spots which pollinators can see. These patterns act as guides that lead the pollinator toward the nectar.

Unlike insects, birds are highly attracted to the color red. You will often see hummingbirds pollinating flowers that are red, orange, pink or purple.

Moths, bats and other nighttime pollinators are attracted to blooms that reflect ultraviolet light (whites & yellows). Night blooming flowers such as tomato blooms, phlox, moonflower evening primrose and buddleia work well in attracting these pollinators. The Hummingbird Clearwing Moth is a diurnal pollinator of this group.

Birds see the same color spectrum we do and their coloring is used for a specific purpose. The males are usually the more colorful of the species because their primary purpose is to attract a mate. The females on the other hand are more subdued because they are trying to blend in with their surroundings to protect their eggs and later their young.

Some species use their coloring to blend with their surroundings thus protecting themselves from predators. This anole can blend in nicely with the hosta leaves but can change its coloring to blend in with the plant hook too.

Color is important to the plant and animal world and nature has found a way for them to work harmoniously together. With this post, I am joining Garden Walk Garden Talk for Word for Wednesday: Harmony with Color. Be sure to visit Donna's blog to see more interpretations.


  1. Loved your color/critter post. I did not know all about what the insects see, and it makes perfect sense to plant for them this way. Love that first photo of the chipmunk and squirrel. Thanks for joining, and I hope to meet you at a Fling in the future. Two years from now it may be in SC.

  2. Your blooms are lovely but your other photos are fantastic. You really caught some great shots.

    Cher Sunray Gardens

  3. Thanks for all the fun facts. The painted lady butterflies have been visiting my garden the last few weeks and I haven't been able to identify them so I'm glad you posted about them. The zebra swallowtail photo is great. I love how it contrasts with the Heuchera.

  4. Well, I learned some things. I had no idea red was not a big attractor! The fact that yellow is, though, makes sense as most flowers seem to have a yellow spot in the middle. Nature is truly amazing.

  5. Hi Karin, I learned a few things from this post. I would like to have more butterflies in my garden, so I guess I should up the red, yellow, orange, pink and purple. I particularly like your last example of harmony. The little green anole is really in harmony with that plant hanger. It is quite the miraculous transformation!

  6. The humming bird is so amazing... we don't get such exotic creatures here so I love to read posts like yours. It's interesting to learn about the different colours and what species are attracted to them.

  7. So interesting! I wonder how scientists figure out what other animals can see. It is also fascinating how an ecosystem evolves - everything has a purpose in the ecosystem and balances out.

  8. Interesting post about how different colours attract different critters. I have lots of pink in my garden, hopefully I'll get some butterflies soon.

  9. Fantastic post. You conveyed my thoughts exactly. And great photos. Thanks for sharing.

  10. I loved this post and I learned a lot..I wish that more people could see that in helping nature, we are ultimately helping ourselves....Michelle

  11. Karin this is a great post...so much information that we can all learn and observe...great photos as always!

  12. Great picture of the chipmunk and friends! I finally saw my first one here in our yard. The leaves were rustling more than if an anole was there, I turned, and a chipmunk scurried off.
    We enjoy watching the anole --watched one change color as he went from one area to another.
    Great pictures Karin.

  13. Wonderfully informative post and so beautifully illustrated with your photos. Love the harmonious picture with the squirrel, the chipmunk and the dove.


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One of my favorite things about blogging is the conversation with readers. Leave a comment and let's get talking. ~Karin

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