Zinnias and Butterflies

One of the things I love to do, but often don't have enough time to do, is visit gardens. I like seeing what ideas other gardeners have had and taking a bit of their creativity back to my garden. We recently visited a farm and picked some pumpkins for the fall. While a farm and garden can be vastly different operations, many techniques and ideas can be used interchangeably. One simple thing that I thought was very neat was the mass planting of zinnias. I've grown zinnias many times over the years but usually only plant a few here and there. On the farm they planted a massive row of zinnias which attracted loads of butterflies! Zinnias and Butterflies The wide row of zinnia flowers was as long as the first pumpkin field.  Butterflies were EVERYWHERE! This made me start thinking about what we might do done the road on…

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A Magnificent Monarch on Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Just one really neat sight I saw this weekend was the monarch sipping nectar from the milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). Milkweed is the host plant for the monarch butterflies which serves a very important role in the life of the fluttering favorites of backyard butterflies. Milkweed contains a chemical called glycosides which get consumed by the monarch caterpillars (see more here on milkweed). When they grow up this chemical makes the butterflies poisonous to birds and other predators - essentially the milkweed plant becomes a natural defense mechanism. This milkweed was not on the slope of my wild area but at my wife's parent's house on the outskirts of their woodland. Once the flowers turn into seed pods I'll collect them to plant in our natural areas and try to help these magnificent monarchs along!

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