My Pollinator Friendly Yard

No chemicals needed!
No chemicals needed!
Plant for the monarch butterfly
Plant for the monarch butterfly

Today my yard is teaming with pollinators.  The bees are in abundance, house finch and hummingbirds are loving the fresh blooming plants, and I am thrilled.  Butterflies have been slow to appear, but today I had a giant swallowtail, several red admirals, a painted lady, and a monarch!

The Giant Swallowtail Butterfly. Photo credit: Brian GratwickeThe Giant Swallowtail Butterfly. Photo credit: Brian Gratwicke

An American lady
An American lady
swamp milkweed ready for monarch butterflies
Swamp milkweed ready for monarch butterflies


Bee balm, cone flowers, and milkweed will bring butterflies, bees and butterflies.

Try this link to research and look up butterflies



August, Get Outside!

Monarch caterpillars on swamp milkweed
Monarch caterpillars on swamp milkweed

Superior views,  August 2014

August sunset in a murky sky
August sunset in a murky sky

August is the best month of the year on Lake Superior.  The weather is perfect, and there is so much to enjoy.  The dog days of summer don’t happen here, and it is perfect to be active outside.

Many baby birds are everywhere . The young chickadees, purple finch, and song sparrows are more interested in  playing and having fun than their safety. A song sparrows even tries to play with a chipmunk.  Grosbeaks and vireos eat berries from the elderberry bushes that are a month late to bloom. Screeching juvenile eagles sit in the white pine overlooking Lake Superior, but the day’s excitement settles down when a fox walks through to check out the days activity.

Temperatures are 70 degree perfect, but the sun is murky and the lake hazy from wild fires in Canada,

Many pollinator plants are trying to bloom because of the still cold lake, and the bee and butterfly numbers are low as they wait for their favorites to blossom!   The very best has been the swamp milkweed with four monarch caterpillars eating their leaves.

Swamp Milkweed
Swamp Milkweed

Habitat loss, No Monarchs this year

Asclepias syriaca COMMON MILKWEED
Asclepias syriaca COMMON MILKWEED (Photo credit: gmayfield10)

There just isn’t enough milkweed!

The monarch butterfly numbers have plummeted, and experts tell us it is habitat loss due to bad weather(climate change), mono-cultures of corn and soybeans, and pesticides.

Why can’t you purchase common milkweed at garden stores? The experts say we should be planting common milkweed.  For the past two summers I have been trying to purchase milkweed.  Even native plant stores say, “Our supplier doesn’t carry common milkweed”  They consider it a weed.

For years I have been scattering seeds, but have not seen any results.

A garden store 3 hours from my home dug some out of their garden for me.  It was wilted by the time I was able to get it planted, but I cut it off and stuck in the ground.  Two weeks later it has some new growth and I am thrilled.

The last few years a monarch sighting was special, but this year, I can count on one hand the number of monarchs I have seen on my daily walks.  We all need to act!

What can we all do?

  1. Tell garden stores you would like to purchase common milkweed, and to please find a source so they can sell it to their customers.
  2. Plant other plants the monarchs love: Liatris, cone flowers, hyssop, butterflyweed, swamp milkweed and many smelly orange and yellow flowers.
  3. Reduce the amount of turf grass in your yard, and if possible just leave some wild areas for the birds, bees and butterflies.  Bees and butterflies love dandelions
  4. Do not use chemicals, especially neonicotinoid pesticides.
  5.  Use as many organic food products as you can, and buy local.  Monarch butterfly numbers down sharply

Monarch male showing its wings to attract a mate
Monarch male showing its wings to attract a mate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)