No Milkweed, No Monarchs: Why Asclepias Plants Are So Very Important!

No Milkweed, No Monarchs: Why Asclepias Plants Are So Very Important!

Although it won’t be official until mid-March, when the Mexican government releases the winter’s population count, ‘unofficial’ reports are anticipating a rather small migrating population. These unofficial reports are coming from the El Rosario Sanctuary in Mexico (see video example from 2016 at the end of this post); a site that can sometimes be the winter home for over 50% of the entire monarch population in Mexico. Reports and photos show butterflies densely covering approximately 18 trees. That’s good news, but last year, reports were that 50 trees were covered.

That’s not good news, but it is a call to action: PLANT MORE MILKWEED!

We’ve written a lot about pollinators, monarchs, and natives. We think that they are really important, so forgive any redundancy! A few things to keep in mind:

  • All Milkweed plants are Asclepias
  • Milkweed is the required host plant for monarch butterflies
  • Any loss in the population of milkweed means the loss of the monarch population
  • We are losing both at an alarming rate
  • The biggest threats come from urban development and agricultural intensification

(more…)

The Importance of Monarch Butterflies

The Importance of Monarch Butterflies

“Nature is not a luxury, it is an investment”

~ Mark Tercek
CEO, The Nature Conservancy

The time is running out for many native habitats, but there is so much you can do.  I have been working my land for the past 35 years, and I can now look over my conservation efforts and see that they have ‘borne fruit’.  From the reclaimed crop fields to thriving natural habitats filled with butterflies, pollinator bees, quail, deer;  everything that lives in our area makes their way into these ‘safe zones’.  They are vital as their world is shrinking thanks to plows, mowers and not to mention other encroachments.  This wasn’t a hard task;  marginal crop land taken out of production and planted as early succession natural habitat.  This effort was supported by state and federal programs available to landowners ~ it wasn’t a ‘break the bank’ effort, and we were also flooded with great information as well as direct payments from these programs.

You don’t have to own a farm to make a difference.  A yard will work.  But, you do have to have a commitment to leaving your land in better shape than you found it.  We call it stewardship, and firmly believe that each of us has both a right and responsibility. (more…)

Solidago: 2017 Notable Native Herb

Solidago: 2017 Notable Native Herb

And The Winner Is….

Congratulations to the winner:  Solidago has been named the 2017 Notable Native Herb by the Herb Society of America.  We won’t be hearing any impressive acceptance speeches from the winner, so let me do the honors:

‘I would just like to thank the academy, well actually, the Herb Society of America, for this incredible honor.  I am truly speechless’

Or, if John Muir were still among us (and boy, do I wish he was) we’d use his own words:

The fragrance, color, and form of the whole spiritual expression of Goldenrod are hopeful and strength giving beyond any others I know.  A single spike is sufficient to heal unbelief and melancholy

(more…)

Why Are Native Plants So Important For Your Garden?

Why Are Native Plants So Important For Your Garden?

With over 35 years of growing plants under our belts, we began to focus on herbs in 2008. We’d always loved growing them, but honestly, the demands for perennials and annuals in our local market meant that herbs only accounted for about 20% of the plants we grew. Once we hopped onto the world wide web, and were able to really use data to research what people wanted to grow, but couldn’t get locally, herbs became our focus. For the past 8+ years, we had added more and more herbs to our lineup. Now, we are offering over 160 different types of herbs for you, our customers!

But, since we are growers and addicted to growing a variety of plants, we’ve been ‘toying’ with the idea of introducing a closely related group of plants. Of course, you don’t need to have a garden to grow plants. You can start with growing your plants in a container and transitioning, or just have house plants instead. You can even check out a website similar to gardenersdream.co.uk to get more information if this is something you’re interested in doing. Just remember that there are many different ways to achieve your garden dream, so, drum roll, please… (more…)

Fall Gardening- My Favorite Time Of The Year

Fall Gardening- My Favorite Time Of The Year

The sadness of summer fading can only be cured by the excitement of fall.

Cooler temperatures and the bountiful harvest draw our attention away from what was, to the beautiful changes before us. It feels good to bundle up in a favorite fleece for a morning jaunt into the garden. I hope you are making that little jaunt each morning; even ten minutes of trimming, weeding and piddling will brace you for the days work. Think of it as a kind of yoga or meditation practice. After a few weeks of practice, you get flowers and veggies. All that squatting down, reaching around, and scratching in the ground does kind of limber you up, and a few quiet moments looking over your plants does clear your mind, and those veggies will nourish your body and soul. Flowers brighten your day!

Fall is our favorite time to garden

Why would we not start the day in the garden? I don’t know because all of the above is true and we all know how busy and complex life is today. I try to visit my little home herb garden each morning, my excuse is to let the chickens out, but I always piddle and pull a few weeds or pick a little something to leave in the kitchen for dinner. This is a nice start for me because I also know that during the day, through some intrusive media source, word of mouth, or just something I see walking down a city street will give me pause. And I will truly wonder how the human race has gotten thus far. Since there is not much to be done about the world at large, one needs some means of maintaining sanity. The only salvation is a sanctuary, and home with a garden has the deepest roots. Whatever goes on elsewhere, it is grounding to know that the garden is there, orderly and bountiful. (more…)

Growing Moonflower Vines in Your Garden

Growing Moonflower Vines in Your Garden

Gardeners are creatures of habit, it is only the changing seasons that give our garden activities variety. And like all creatures of habit, we collect favorite tools, seeds, and even favorite methods and motions as we happily plod through garden chores. To the casual observer, we may not appear locked into our set ways. But there is one favorite that always gives us away, our favorite plants! Using our Charming Bench Company products, we love to sit and watch our favorite plants and flowers blossom, creating a beautiful and tranquil outdoor space. I must add, different furniture styles pair well with different types of plants. Wooden furniture pairs well with light-colored plants and shrubs and dark pieces of furniture work well with boldly colored plants as there is a significant contrast between the plants and furniture, making the plant’s beauty stand out.

There is those few plants a gardener plants year after year. One of those plants, for me, are my most cherished moonflower vines. For moonflowers to grace my patio rail in summer, the young plants must first scale a four feet high brick wall to reach the railing. They cannot do this alone, and this wall must be crossed and covered will foliage before the summer sun makes the bricks too hot for vines and leaves. For moonflowers to grace the patio rail in summer, the planting should be soon after night temperatures are over fifty degrees. Ipomea alba is a tropical plant and cool nights will stunt or kill young moonflower plants. (more…)