C'mon Along . . . Paddle with Me


I'm up north for a couple of days -- with Tom and my Dad.  The scenes here are much the same as always . . . the lake, the woods, campfires, loons.  

Instead of sharing more photos and stories of the same old thing, I thought I'd take the time to share something a little different. Today, I'm putting in a plug for the monarchs!  And I'm going to tell you how easy it is to help them along their way.


This tangled mess of a garden . . . is my butterfly garden -- and a certified Monarch Waystation.  It's full of flowers especially appealing to pollinators of all kinds, and three kinds of milkweed for the monarchs.  (The bright orange flowers you can see blooming now?  That's butterfly weed, one type of milkweed.)


When we first moved to our house 15 years ago, I was thrilled with the gardening possibilities in our new yard.  We were moving from a house with deep, deep shade.  Only shade.  No sun to speak of at all!  And here - in my new house - I had both.  Shade on one side, sun on the other.

I immediately set out to create the English cottage garden of my dreams.  I planted delphinium and foxglove and hardy geraniums.  Clematis and lavender and phlox.  It was lovely.  For about two weeks in early June.  And then it just faded!  Because, really, that sunny location wasn't right for those gentle plants.  Too hot. Too dry. Deer. Rabbits.  

I was so discouraged.


About that time, I started learning about pollinators and following along as the plight of the monarch butterfly was unfolding.  (You can learn more here.)  I decided to turn my (failing) English cottage-style garden into a pollinator garden -- and, specifically, into a monarch-friendly garden.


After doing a little research, I discovered that there were published guidelines for creating monarch habitats.  Home gardeners can easily create and certify their gardens as Monarch Waystations by providing:

  • dedicated space (while there is no minimum size requirement for certification, butterfly gardens are most effective at 100 square feet or larger)
  • sun exposure (a minimum of 6 hours of sun each day)
  • shelter from predators and the elements (plants close together without overcrowding)
  • milkweed plants (at least 3 varieties to attract monarchs during their breeding season)
  • nectar plants providing continuous blooms throughout the growing season and into the fall (which is migration time for the monarchs)
  • regular maintenance (weeding, thinning, eliminating pesticide use, watering, etc.)


When I first certified my garden as a Monarch Waystation, Tom and Brian used to call me and pretend they were monarchs, trying to make reservations in my Waystation.  (Do you have any rooms available tonight?) (Haha. Very. Funny.

My garden does attract lots of monarchs -- and many other types of butterflies, as well.  Swallowtail.  Red and White Admiral. Skippers.  Glassywing.  Fritillary.  It's also popular with various moths, hummingbirds, and bees of all types.  The birds are thrilled with all the seed heads after bloom.  It is a VERY happy place!


If you have a little space in your garden -- and if you're interested in saving the monarchs while attracting any number of cool pollinators, check out Monarch Watch and see how easy it is to create and certify your own Monarch Waystation.

(And then just get ready for all those monarch calls . . . asking if you have any reservations available!)



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I'd like to book a room for the week, please! Great post, your flowers are beautiful and it's wonderful that you're taking care of the butterflies and more.


Thank you, thank you for this wonderful post! We've been having a big discussion here about the garden. There is a huge black walnut tree in our neighbor's yard; walnuts produce juglone from all parts of the tree that is toxic to tomato, potato, eggplant, cucumber, and pepper plants. We've also got some sort of fungus affecting the tomatoes, but I think you may have provided a solution to our failing NJ garden. John wants to try a vegetable garden in MD, but I wasn't sure what to do with the cleared area here in NJ. A Monarch Waystation might be perfect! I've already got a bunch of purple cone flowers and black-eyed susans there, and will give more thought to milkweed and nectar plants I might need to plant. Thanks for a really lovely idea; I hope to be taking reservations next year!


I just read that Monarchs are making a comeback here in Utah. I wish I had a place to plant flowers for butterflies, birds and hummers! Your garden is magnificent!


I also read the blog Bake at 350...she’s in Texas and is also a certified monarch waystation. I think it’s so neat to see gardens for the monarchs so far apart.


Thank you for offering shelter and food to the monarchs and other pollinators. Beautiful space. I would like to stop here along my way.


We inadvertently ended up providing a space for monarchs. Neither of us are very good gardeners (though we try!), but there is an old grapevine that grows along our deck to the roof of our house. Towards the end of summer, it's monarch heaven!

Your garden is truly lovely - just what I would imagine a butterfly garden to be. :-)


OMG, I'm still smiling about Tom & Brian's shenanigans. It reminds me of my sister Sharon, who always tried to make prank calls but usually failed miserably... she just couldn't hold it together! So funny. Anyway, I love this post! I've not been much of a gardener in the last (quite a) few years, but this is pretty motivating... and doable!! Thanks!


Beautiful, Kym - so pretty to look at ... and so good for the Earth. We're going to try to plant some of those flowers in our bed re-do. I'm sure we'll attract bees ... and maybe a few butterflies, too!


This is just so awesome! Nice work.


Gorgeous blooms! We have milkweed (blooming now) and it increased a lot from last year. We also found that the monarchs and other butterflies like purple loosestrife (invasive, but we love it in our bog area).

Barb B in BC

Is your waystation mostly preneniel or do you have to plant it every year? I am wonndering mostly about the milkweeds and the zinnias?
Your station looks wonderful!


Beautiful! I think it was only a year or so ago I realized how beautiful milkweed flowers are! Those Michigan monarchs are lucky!




We’re having lotsa problems with the back yard lawn, etc...a monarch waystaion may be one solution...thanks for the idea AND the information! I love English cottage gardens...



Do you follow, participate in Journey North?
They track migrations of monarch, hummingbirds and other creatures of the Americas.

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