We're excited to share that our garden has been designated as a Monarch Waystation by the non-profit Monarch Watch. Here's a description of the program:
Each fall, hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies migrate from the United States and Canada to mountains in central Mexico, where they wait out the winter until conditions favor a return flight in the spring. The monarch migration is truly one of the world's greatest natural wonders, yet it is threatened by habitat loss at overwintering grounds in Mexico and throughout breeding areas in the United States and Canada.
Monarch Waystations are places that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. Without milkweeds throughout their spring and summer breeding areas in North America, monarchs would not be able to produce the successive generations that culminate in the migration each fall. Similarly, without nectar from flowers, these fall migratory monarch butterflies would be unable to make their long journey to overwintering grounds in Mexico. The need for host plants for larvae and energy sources for adults applies to all monarch and butterfly populations around the world. (From the Monarch Watch website)
Besides the above sign, we also received a certificate of appreciation, but for us the real reward has been witnessing first-hand how the old adage is true: If you build it, they will come. Or rather, if you plant it, they will come. We've planted close to 150 native trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses over the past three years, including a few varieties of milkweed, the monarch's preferred food. The results have been evident in the monarch (and other) pollinator species clearly supported by our garden.
Last summer, a monarch chrysalis even formed an attachment to one of our garden chairs. The chair is set under a pergola and upon wood chips instead of paving. We opted not to add "impervious surfaces," which are hardscape surfaces water can't penetrate. The increase of these types of surfaces in urban areas has contributed to runoff, stormwater, flooding, and other problems. It seems the monarchs treated the chair as if it simply blended into the natural environment, which is how we hoped the garden would be!
Here's the caterpillar going into its chrysalis stage.
And here's the chrysalis.
Our Monarch Waystation designation comes fresh on the heels of achieving Platinum Status in the Bring Conservation Home program. Inveterate gamers (who need to level up and earn all achievements) and collectors (who need to collect aaaall the badges), of course we had to display the two signs on the fence near the entrance to our back garden.