Monarch Butterflies have begun to return to our gardens again this year. Monarchs require Milkweed for their caterpillars. As a matter of fact, Monarch caterpillars can only feed on Milkweeds and nothing else. The adult Butterflies, however, need nectar all summer long.
According to National Geographic, Fewer monarch butterflies are crossing North America to winter in Mexico, and the biggest culprit seems to be the disappearance of milkweed in the United States. The trend is particularly troubling because monarchs have long been considered both an indicator of our ecological health and a representative of pollinator populations.
When planting for Monarchs, mix Milkweed with lots of flowering nectar plants (as well as grasses) that will bloom from early in the summer (when Monarchs first arrive) through the fall.
This will have several advantages including the following:
Provide nectar for the Monarchs, along with many butterflies and pollinators, when the Milkweed are not flowering. Each species of Milkweed only flowers for about a month. The adult Monarchs need nectar from the time they arrive until they leave.
Create a sustainable ecosystem in your home garden.
Support not only the struggling Monarch, but many species of Butterflies, Beetles, Moths, Birds, Snakes, Turtles, and Mammals…etc.
Create a beautiful butterfly garden for your enjoyment.
What kind of Milkweed should you plant? Plant Milkweeds native to your area and adapted to your soil and sun conditions. Monarchs can use ALL of them. There are about 75 species of Milkweed found in North America. There are a lot to choose from. You can find out what species are native to your area at the Biota of North America Program (http://bonap.net/NAPA/TaxonMaps/Genus/County/Asclepias ).
Email KW Landscaping for more information and to inquire about integrating monarch attracting milkweed into your summer garden.
As many of you know, KW Landscaping only uses natural and organic products when servicing a client’s landscape. For many years, we have strongly endorsed not using chemicals on your property. Recently, we had the pleasure of landscaping a client’s home who happened to also be a doctor. The doctor was very concerned about what products we would be using on his property and we reassured him that we only used organic treatments. Even still, the doctor wanted more information about our organic products and began to tell me why he was so concerned. It turns out that years ago, the doctor had hired an experienced technician to spray a weed growing in his cattle farm in the 1970’s. He noticed how the man who was spraying downward as he traversed the field had ended up engulfed in the fumes from the weed spray. After the spraying, the doctor noted that thefield rats, moles and mice that had populated the area were not to be seen again for 25 years. He also said that the man who had performed the weed spraying died two years later oflymphoma. The doctor then told me about another instance when he had witnessed a neighbor using a VERY common brand name weed killer to kill milk weed in his yard. He noticed this neighbor practicing this behavior for about 10 years. This neighbor later died of metastatic kidney cancer.
These stories reinforced the conviction that had lead me to choose to be an organic landscaping company. I hope it helps you to use caution when deciding what treatments to use in your lawn and garden. It is imperative that we be aware of the chemicals in our lives and the harmful effects they can have both on our environment and on our lives. Please take this into consideration before using harmful pesticides and weed killers. Even the chemicals sold at your local hardware store can be very dangerous. Please email KW Landscaping if you would like their help in creating a safe solution to your pest or weed issue.
June is the perfect time to fill your planters with beautiful arrangements to brighten your home all summer long. Garden and home stores are overflowing with plants and pots in every shape, color and size imaginable so it can be hard to decide what design you want. Here are a few tips to consider when planning your planters:
1) Consider all colors and textures – A well balanced arrangement doesn’t rely solely on one or two colors but incorporates accent colors in both the flower and the foliage. You should also consider texture, combining sharp shiny reeds with soft furry leaves can create eye-catching drama and balance. Try combining an arrangement of Pennisetum rubrum (red fountain grass), Ipomea (sweet potato vine), Calibrachoa (million bells), Begonia Dragonwing and Ageratum for a variety of colors, textures and growth habits.
2) Balance foliage and flowers – the foliage to flower ratio is critical. The positioning of foliage to frame and also create movement will dramatically increase the aesthetic success of your planter.
3) Shade or sun – Consider where you plan to place your planter. If your planter will have the bright shade of the morning sun, this will open up more options than deep shade spaces. Study the area in which you want to plant, then purchase your plants accordingly.
If you love planting container gardens but don’t know where to start send KW Landscaping an email and they can provide beautiful arrangements for your summer planters.
Let’s make Maryland a Monarch friendly stop for our traveling butterfly friends. Did you know that Asclepias, commonly referred to as milkweed plants, are vitally important to the existence of the Monarch Butterfly? Asclepias are the ONLY plant that monarch caterpillars can feed on. No Asclepias, no Monarchs. There have been reportedly less Monarchs than usual last year in the Northeast. The environmental factors including pesticides and habitat loss in the Midwest are hard for us to control here in Maryland but once the monarchs get here, we CAN provide them with larval plant food and then plenty of nectar. Please consider adding this fragrant plant to your garden to not only help sustain the Monarch population but attract these marvelous creatures to your own backyard. There are a number a beautiful colors to choose from including pink, white, purple and orange butterfly weed. Email KW Landscaping for more information on how to add this to your garden in time for the incoming Monarch migration, currently headed our way. click here to see the Monarch’s migration by region. KW Landscaping can order the milkweed plant and have it ready for your garden in 2-3 days. Have you seen a Monarch yet in Maryland this year?
Think the butterfly bush would be a great addition to your Maryland garden? Think again. This enlightening article highlights many other good plant choices for attracting butterflies and birds to your garden. You may also call KW Landscaping for a native Maryland butterfly garden possibly featuring the aromatic aster featured in this photo.
Think about adding one of these native beauties to your Maryland home residential landscaping project, the Pinxter Flower (Pink Azalea). During April and May many home gardens in our region are adorned with boldly-hued cultivated azaleas. Yet few Maryland residents realize that beyond the garden gate a native woodland azalea of delicate beauty and subtle fragrance that is blooming simultaneously. The production of this variety is limited but KW Landscaping can source this native beauty for your Maryland home garden.