Monarch Butterfly Wayside & Feeding Station
The Monarch Butterfly with its orange, black, and white markings, adds such vitality and beauty to the garden space. From childhood on, they seem to have found an enduring place in our minds as we see them pass through our lives on their migratory routes coming from, or returning to Mexico. It takes all of four generations for the complete round trip, from Mexico to Canada and back to Mexico.
Each generation lives only two to six weeks as adults, though the fourth generation reaches the Canadian border. That generation lives up to eight months. It is the one that travels the return journey of up to three-thousand miles back to Mexico. There it reproduces the following Spring. Those young are the ones who start the long journey once again. It is so fascinating to think that the ones who finally return to Mexico and go to the very special Winter area there, have never been there before.
Monarch in the Aster Field along Lake Path at GAWE
In order to attract and to feed these long journey travelers, Gardens at Waters East has incorporated a number of plants and items into some of the garden rooms on the property. You will actually see many of these plants and ideas when you browse through the different postings for the gardens. Hopefully this posting will encourage you to develop in your own garden areas similar plants to make a way station for both the Monarchs and other butterflies. You may not know it, but Monarch Butterflies are prolific pollinators, second only to the bees. If for no other reason than this, invite them into your garden.
In addition to the information here, search the web and you will find many sites with helpful hints on making your garden inviting to Monarchs and other butterflies. The show the butterflies will bring to your garden is wonderful – and it is free.
Gardens at Waters East is fortunate indeed that the adjoining property owners have the same interest in helping butterflies survive. Taken together, the three owners have more than twenty-two acres of land where butterflies are welcomed and cared for with food, water, nesting, and resting areas. On top of that; less than 1,650 feet south of these properties is a thirty-five acres private conservancy with native plants, trees, and grasses; and to the north less than 1,700 feet is a state nature preserve with much the same vegetation and a crystal clear trout stream. Gardens at Waters East sits firmly in the middle of this exceptional shoreline stretch of land and is a welcome refuge and feeding station to many butterflies and other creatures.
Even in the Winter season milkweed has a beauty
Especially for the Monarchs, Gardens at Waters East has “cultivated” some large areas of milkweed, the essential food for these beautiful travelers. Three of the larger areas range in size from four-hundred square feet to more than five-hundred square feet. In addition to these special areas, milkweed is grown throughout the property and the adjoining properties. It is an experience of awe and wonder seeing hundreds of Monarchs dropping down onto this garden area like orange leaves from the sky during their journey. It is a real privilege and a joy to witness such a “happening”.
Milkweed pods awaiting the return of the Monarch
In small or large gardens, you can create a place that Monarchs and other butterflies will seek out and want to visit. They will “appreciate” your efforts and you will delight in the show they bring.
Butterfly inviting flowers at GAWE
Following is a partial list of the plants growing at Gardens at Waters East.
These and others encourage the presence of both Monarchs and many other butterflies.
American Highbush Cranberry Viburnum
Butterfly Bush Buddleia
Joy Pye Weed
New England Aster
Blazing Star Liatris
Black Eyed Susan Rudbeckia
Bee Balm Monarda
Queen Anne’s Lace
Joy Pye Weed on the edge of the Rain Garden at GAWE
In addition to these plants; there are other items that help make Monarchs welcome in the garden. There are many resting and sunning stones throughout the gardens; bushes and trees to protect the butterflies form strong winds; low level watering areas with stones for the butterflies to rest on; and areas of sand and mud at the shore for needed salts and minerals in the butterflies diet.
The Gardens at Waters East has done its best to be a place of refuge, feeding, and rest to these long-journeyed travelers. One rightly can take pride that in some small way, the Gardens at Waters East is helping the continuing preservation of this beautiful and fragile creature we share.
Reference Note: For a complete list of the ten (10) Principles of Design used here and throughout Gardens at Waters East, check out the archive postings for November 14 – 24, 2010.
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