Self proclaiming yourself as a gardener, also carries a few unspoken titles along the way such as, stylist of dirty clothing, scientist of Florida's extreme heat index, and a versatile consumer of both sunblocks and bug spray. Suffice it to say, we endure the not so pleasant labors of gardening because the rewards of having a well manicured lawn, blooming gardens and bountiful food crops is rewarding to ourselves, our neighbors and the environment. But make no mistake, every gardener knows they do not achieve success as a human being alone without the contributions of nature. The pollinators and wildlife work their own kind of magic with an equal amount of devotion to
Alongside honey bees, another group of natural winged do-gooders are the butterflies. None of which are more recognizable in the Northern Hemisphere than the Monarch. Not that anyone is keeping count of these graceful and delicate insects, but have you noticed seeing less and less of them over the last few decades? Scientists estimated the Eastern Monarch population in the early 1990's was
around 700 million but 25 years later, only 25 million remain.
So what is happening in nature for such a drastic decline? Well a lot of reasons but mostly humans developing more land to live on which wipes out their native landscape, the overuse of pesticides and over plantings of non native Milkweed plants. For those of you who may not know, the Milkweed species is the only host plant that Monarch butterflies will lay their eggs on for reproduction. Florida boasts 21 native species of Milkweed which are typically found in either dry lands or swampy areas.
Fortunately, in 2014, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service adopted the Monarch Milkweed Initiative (MMI) to promote the growth of native milkweed plants in an effort to prevent the proposed distinction of the Monarch. This prized butterfly actually migrates from Southern Canada to Mexico flying over 3000 miles (East Coast pattern). There are a number of outreach and lookout centers going down the eastern seaboard for tracking and the MMI outreach continues to build partnerships with others.
The Mandarin Garden Club has joined the conservation ranks by hosting a native Milkweed habitat for the Monarch butterflies. While Mary Howe initially created our back butterfly garden (and flourishes under Mary Clark's TLC), of which contains Milkweed plantings, and achieved Monarch Waystation status, the MMI space contains native only Milkweed beds. The goal is to improve community education and public awareness of the plight of these delicate yet necessary
We invite you to explore the western corner of the backside gardens that have slowly been carved out since mid summer in anticipation of our public day event on October 13, 2018. Learn more about their contributions to nature and what you can do in your own yard to get involved in the National Call to Action.