Gardens with Wings
September 25, 2018
Making the Move to Cedarfield
Horticulturist at Cedarfield
This month I have high hopes of seeing our first Monarch butterflies visit and reproduce in our Butterfly Garden and our Park-Lane Four Season Garden. Migrating Monarchs are starting to head south toward Mexico and southern California traveling up to 3000 miles to reach their warmer climate lodgings. With an abundance of Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed) planted at each garden, this is a mandatory host plant providing a food source essential for their offspring caterpillar’s survival. Thirst quenchers are equally important to have blooming later in the season to provide nectar and pollen for butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, bees, and other foraging insects as food assets start to decline. Asters, Goldenrod, Lantana, and Salvias will be laden with a diverse flutter of activity now until early November.
Workaholic Bumble Bees and Honey Bees actively seek out nectar reservoirs and pollen morsels to store for use during the winter months when natural reserves are drastically reduced. A third insect of interest is our Hoverfly. Painted by design to mimic a honey bee, this predatory insect proves a wonderful beneficial as it darts about and hovers feeding on nectar while pollinating plants. Clusters of tiny white eggs will be laid near a pest population, hatching in only 2-3 days. Newly hatched larvae pounce on troublesome aphids, thrips, and mealy bug populations for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
As we wait for our first Monarchs, an abundance of other winged friends visit our gardens from sunrise to sunset. Winning the race for the most visits (steps) from flower to flower (if a Fitbit could be attached) would surely be our Skipper butterflies. Three plus Skipper species have been recorded by our Garden Historian Jann Steele, one of several residents who volunteer to periodically record, document, and take pictures of who’s visiting our gardens about campus.
I’ve found abundant pleasure observing our campus gardens and watching the flutter of activity find their way to our new garden plantings, particularly in the mist of our construction moving parts and pieces, these amazing creatures find solitude, food and a diverse habitat they call home at Cedarfield.