Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Planting Milkweed for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day doesn’t just have to be about getting a bouquet of flowers and box of candy, though I am a huge supporter of both, it is more about celebrating the mother figure in your life.  It can be as simple as a packet of seeds to start in a windowsill garden or as complex as a family reunion.

My kids know that one way to make me happy is for someone to try to bring more native species to our garden. Last year my gift was the relocation of the wild violets to a hill before the contractor ground them to bits. I can look out my window and see the bright blue, purple and yellow heads just starting to poke out of the grass.

This year for my Mother’s Day gift, my children will be planting 12 milkweed seedlings acquired from an acquaintance as well as keeping a packet of milkweed seeds from ADK Action.org, to add to my butterfly garden this fall. I’ve wanted to share a part of my childhood with my kids, but seeing a monarch caterpillar on a milkweed plant has been elusive in my neighborhood.

Though I’ve managed to attract monarch butterflies and hummingbirds, I haven’t been too successful in keeping the monarch caterpillar’s food source, the milkweed, growing. Eventually the butterflies have to find somewhere else to lay their eggs. I have attempted to transplant milkweed onto my property before my neighbor mows their yard. As others have discovered before me, it just doesn’t transplant very well.

According to ADK Action Board Member and Monarch/Milkweed Project Organizer Marsha Stanley, ADK Action will blanket the Adirondacks with 10,000 flyers attached to milkweed seed packets in hopes that Adirondack home and business owners will help provide a haven for the monarch caterpillar’s food source.

“We plan on having these brochures in area chambers, museums and hotels,” says Stanley. “We want to have them everywhere we can to help people understand how the loss of the monarch’s habitat is threatening its migration. To me, this creature, weighing less than an ounce, has evolved and found its niche against all odds. It has the capability of flying 5,000 miles. For man to intervene and end something that marvelous is akin to setting fire to the Mona Lisa. The monarch is one of nature’s great works of art. It would be unthinkable not to do something.”

In addition to providing the milkweed seeds, ADK Action has raised funds to bring the film Flight of the Butterflies to the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The story of the monarch’s migration and Dr. Fred Urquhart’s lifelong quest to find their overwintering area is documented in this film.

So this is just one idea to share if you are looking to bring nature to your yard, make a lasting impact and enjoy a visit from a monarch butterfly. You could even get your milkweed stand certified as a Monarch Waystation by MonarchWatch. Happy Mother’s Day this weekend!


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Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.

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