89 Countries and counting!
Been gone for a while. Lots of life got in the way last summer, and I pretty much had to abandon a lot of my gardening.
I did get to spend a little time in my yard at home and got to join a great club. I am now a member of
Last summer I had my yard certified as a Monarch Waystation. This kind of yard provides the environment that is necessary for the Monarch Butterfly to reproduce and to stop and dine on their way to Mexico for their yearly migration.
Host plants are necessary for the eggs and larva, but just as important are the late blooming nectar plants needed for their long journey.
Plants in the Milkweed family, Asclepias, are the only plants that the larva will eat. Nothing else will sustain them. Milkweed and butterfly weed (not butterfly bush, buddleia) once upon a time were abundant in our area. As houses started to take over the farmland and pastures, these plants were not considered beautiful enough to put into our home landscapes.
|Flowers of butterfly weed - asclepias tuberosa|
|Monarch caterpillar on butterfly weed - Asclepias tuberosa|
The butterfly will lay its eggs on the leaves of the plant. When the egg hatches, about 3 days, the larva hangs out on the plant and eats and eats and eats. It will then start the pupa - chrysalis stage nearby. That can happen on any branch or structure. When the butterfly emerges, it can get its food from multiple sources. Even non native plants, like the butterfly bush.
The butterfly has 3 generations per summer in our area. They are short lived 2 - 6 weeks, so it is their goal to keep reproducing. The last generation is long lived. They will live up to 8 months and make a long trip to Mexico to winter and start their new brood for the next generation.
To become a way station, your yard needs host plants and nectar plants. The organization has a list of plants needed, so all you have to do is check off the plants you have. Butterflies also need water - they prefer puddles ( which I have plenty of in my back yard) and safe areas for the pupa (chrysalis) stage. I have wood piles around my yard. You email this information and are then certified and added to a registry. When you are certified, you can elect to buy a metal sign to post in your yard.
The most striking thing about my yard is the huge variety of late blooming perennials. When all the other flowers are fading and dying, these flowers burst to life. New England asters, goldenrod, obedient plant, ironweed. At the demonstration garden I work in, we have had people stop and get out of their cars to ask about our late blooming flowers. These plants are not available at the big box stores, so you really have to do research to know what you want, then visit a nursery that specializes in native plants, or check out mail order nurseries.
|milkweed - asclepias incarnata|
|obediant plant - Physostegia virginiana|
|rudbeckia - black eyed susan|
|aster- blooms until hard frost Cosmos and Dahlias also|
|First asparagus in my first asparagus crop!|