Earth Day 2019 on April 22 is fast approaching. The theme this year is “Protect our Species.”
Two years ago I started a perennial butterfly garden in the backyard. All butterflies are beautiful in some way, but the Monarch butterfly is special to me. I’ve been making efforts to foster the lives of the Monarchs by planting multiple varieties of milkweed in my garden. Milkweed is the Monarchs’ host plant and the only plant the Monarch caterpillar eats. Each caterpillar must consume the equivalent of about one plant in the two weeks it takes to become a chrysalis. Unfortunately, with the wide application of herbicides and road-side cutting, the plants aren’t nearly as accessible as they once were.
In this context, I am pleased to display a painting of milkweeds created by my mother, Marion Wilcox Fleming. This variety is called Common Milkweed, but the blossoms are anything but common. The blooms are a globe shape made up of dozens of much smaller individual pink and white flowers. In the fall the plant produces seed pods reminiscent of a bird’s wing that eventually break open and release hundreds of seeds lofted by delicate feathers.
Common Milkweed seeds are inexpensive, and all varieties have lovely blooms, though some like dry soil and others thrive in moist soil. SaveOurMonarchs.org sells milkweed seeds and encourages saving the Monarch one plant at a time. Why not try planting a few milkweeds in your garden? These butterflies are too precious to lose.