Petals of Milkweed

My pollinator garden thoughts started as growing only those plant species natives to CT. That didn’t last too long as I started incorporating a few of the species that were native to the surrounding states. Naturally, that expanded out just a bit further as thoughts of climate change and wildlife species moving further than normal started to enter the thoughts. Swamp Milkweed, both pink and white, and Butterfly Weed were of course included in plantings along with the much loved, and heavily promoted for Monarch conservation, Common Milkweed. This year I’ve purchased seeds for planting Whorled Milkweed and Poke Milkweed. It will be interesting to see who visits!

Monarch Caterpillar, the reason for the milkweed madness

In just a few blocks from my home, there are two beekeepers that I am aware of. Since water is available the Western Honey Bees are a very common visitor! So much so that no one could get near one of the fountains. Luckily I was allowed to carry on refilling and cleaning chores without too many worries of being stung.

The Western Honey Bee and the Common Milkweed. A true love affair.

The variety of visiting species to the Common Milkweed was many! I’ve started organizing them for the book that has gone from thoughts to writing this year. Besides the butterflies, there also skippers that are always fun to see and photograph.

What would a milkweed be without a Milkweed Beetle or two! In all honesty, we gardeners know just how abundant these red beauties are!

Cutting through the leaf spine is a way of stopping the flow of the toxic white sap in order to move above and safely nibble away.

There are a number of species of Milkweed that, depending on where you live, can be planted. A native nursery is worth a visit as are browsing the varieties and information from some of the reputable seed distributors, such as Prairie Moon Nursery which offers both seeds and plants. .https://www.prairiemoon.com/search.html?Search=asclepias Another worthy place for checking native varieties and plant species data is the USDA and U.S. Forest Service. For some of the “Plants of the Week” visit https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/index.php?profiles=a and scroll down to Asclepias for plant profiles and data on some of their highlighted varieties.

Think Spring! Let the planning and planting begin! Before planting exotics that have coexisted with insects and wild critters that do not inhabit our area, why not take a closer look at planting species that will benefit the wild ones we share our landscapes with?

Warning. Gardening can be very addictive. Another garden can always be started in an unused section of the yard. What better way to spend time at home than wandering among the scents and beauty of flowers and the birds and insects that they will attract.

For the Curious, iNaturalist is a great place to set up an account, upload images, see what the identification possibilities may be, and receive confirmation and/or identification from experts. It is also an easy way to assist in some of the science projects out there. https://www.inaturalist.org/

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