Gardening at HPNC

Follow along as the HPNC Butterfly garden comes to life!

When spring weather is dull and the garden is only slowly waking up, what else can we do but wait? Well HPNC Volunteer, Marilyn Cavicchia, actually overwinters Swallowtail Chrysalises (the stage of metamorphosis between caterpillar and butterfly). and its around this time that, with warmth, they emerge into their beautiful adult Swallowtail form.

5/1/20 Today we received a welcome note from Marilyn, our volunteer Monarch Habitat gardener:

“I’ve seen our first butterflies, either red admirals or painted ladies. Last I heard, the monarchs were in central Illinois. We might see them here by the middle of this month.”

4/26/20 Part 2

These are some flowers/weeds that Marilyn always leaves alone unless she has something else she wants to plant in the spot. Dandelions, Violets, and Purple Dead Nettle (far right) all are very helpful for the first bees and butterflies, before much else is blooming. All are popular among people who like to forage for food, too! She doesn’t know exactly what people use dead nettle for, but dandelion greens are very popular, and lately, she says she’s seen photos where people have deep-fried the flowers. Violets can be candied, made into jelly, or cooked into a syrup that then helps make a pretty purple lemonade (yum!).

4/26/20 Part 1

Today, our volunteer Monarch Habitat tender, Ms. Marilyn Cavicchia removed the duct tape from all but one jug because that last one has not sprouted. But all the others have, and many are stuffed full! She says she’s leaving the top half attached to the jugs for now, in case of a cold snap, but for now she’s flopped them all open.

The big seedlings now have more room to grow, and the small seedlings might benefit from more sun. She will need to watch that they don’t dry out, and lightly mist with the hose if any are too dry. They still need another month or so to grow before planting.

We will have plenty Milkweed to share with anyone who wants some for another community/school garden or at home. We always plant more than we need, because we never know how many will “pop.” The other thing that could happen — and did happen last year — is that if the monarchs arrive early and find no other milkweed (she hasn’t seen any coming up yet), they might lay eggs all over these seedlings.

Marilyn says that she has some other, bigger milkweed plants (different kinds from these seedlings) arriving in the next few weeks, so that will help in the event that the Monarchs show before our plants big and strong. 

Milkweed grown from seed. Originally in covered jugs, allowing for sunlight but protecting the seedlings from gold weather. The jugs are open now to allow more sun in and give the little plants room to grow!

HPNC’s Certificate of Appreciation from MonarchWatch?

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