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!)