When we left ten days ago, our lawn looked like this:
When we came back, this was what our lawn looked like:
and this was the neighbor’s:
After six years I still can’t convince him that there are much better ways to get rid of fall leaves than sending them to the dump in black plastic bags.
After last week's blog, a very good question came up. A client asked, "If I decide to become a native plant purist and avoid mums, then what should I plant instead?
I popped into our local big box store yesterday to pick up a few bags of rock I needed to finish one of my backyard pathways. As I pulled into the parking lot, a huge sign greeted me, reminding me that planting fall blooming flowers helps keep our native pollinators fed. Since my garden is severely lacking in masses of blooms to feed my winged visitors right now, I decided to see what they had to offer.
At first glance, I was thrilled; the garden center was absolutely bursting with blooms — dozens of colors and shapes and varieties —of chrysanthemums. Benches and benches full of them – and very few other nectar rich choices for the mum-reluctant gardener.
Yesterday morning my three-year-old companion came running into the kitchen. Grabbing me by the arm, she pulled me towards the garden, yelling at the top of her lungs, “Gramma, you’ve got bugs…too many bugs.” I could tell from her expression that this was serious business and I would be expected to take care of all the bugs instantly. Not quite sure what to expect, I grabbed a trowel in one hand and a broom in the other and followed her lead – which brought us to a beautiful patch of milkweed pods ready to burst open and spread their seed.
I came home from the Perennial Plant Association’s National Symposium determined to tear out every single one of my garden beds and start completely over. In my mind, as I judged them against the images and designs I had seen, there was no question – mine were shameful and had to go! Thankfully, my husband pulled the shovel out of my hands and talked me down from the cliff. My reaction to an educational seminar may seem just a bit extreme, but if you ever have the opportunity to hear Claudia West, landscape architect and co-author of one of my favorite books Planting In A Post-Wild World speak, I guarantee you will understand.
One of my favorite things to do this summer is to quietly sit on my deck, watching dozens of butterflies floating through the yard enjoying the nectar buffet I’ve planted. This is the first year that I’ve had a steady stream of visitors and it feels like the time, effort and money I’ve put into the pollinator garden the last few years are finally paying off.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN), has officially added the migratory monarch butterfly to its list of endangered species. Unless there are immediate, concerted efforts to restore its habitats and halt climate change, this beloved butterfly will become extinct. One subspecies, the western monarch, is at particular risk. In 2021, researchers determined that less than 2,000 of them exist.
One of my favorite sights of summer is watching butterflies as they make their way through my gardens, stopping here and there to nibble at the nectar buffet in front of them. It can be absolutely mesmerizing., but there is so much more to enjoy. To add to my delight, in just a little while another, a different butterfly show will begin here in central Missouri. Butterfly eggs will begin to hatch and caterpillars will start munching away at my plants.