The butterfly nursery takes shape!

The garden takes shape at the entrance to the Nature Center. (Courtesy of Terri Whaley)
The garden takes shape at the entrance to the Nature Center.
(Courtesy of Terri Whaley)

As you know from Terri and Minnie’s post last spring, we started work on a butterfly nursery specifically designed to attract and nurture monarchs.  Led by Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists, and the Native Plant Society, and supported as one of their official demonstration garden projects, we have made terrific progress.  We’ll be ready to welcome monarchs and other springtime visitors.   Gardens that are good for butterflies are also good for other pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds.

Prepping the soil before planting. (Courtesy of Emily Hilley-Sierzchula)
Linda O’Nan prepping the soil before planting.
(Courtesy of Emily Hilley-Sierzchula/The Highlander)

When planning a project such as this, the team had to consider which plants and flowers provide the optimum healthy smorgasbord, feeding caterpillars, butterflies and their friends from spring through fall.   So far, we have planted Green milkweed, Tropical milkweed, plus seeds of two native milkweeds (Antelope horn and Hierba de Zizotes),  Gayfeather, Purple coneflower, Obedient plant, Autumn sage, native Lantana, Blue mistflower, Tall aster, Fall aster, Tall goldenrod, Maximillian sunflower, Esperanza, Rock rose, Big red sage, and a Mexican plum tree.   More to come, including a “Bee Happy” wildflower mix with lots of plants for pollinators – Frostweed, Verbena, Black-eyed Susan, Winecup, American basket flower, Lemon mint, Golden-wave, Foxglove, and many more.  Thanks to all who donated plants and seeds!

planting the right stuff Emily Hilley-Sierzchula
Pat Campbell and Minnie Eaton carefully plant the tasty treats for monarchs and other butterflies. (Courtesy of Emily Hilley-Sierzchula/The Highlander)

We also had to ensure that there was sufficient shelter to protect the eggs and chrysalis (cocoons) from predators.  Mud puddles and the marshy areas around the pond provide water and salts.  Since butterflies cannot regulate their own body temperatures, we needed a sunny spot so they can bask in the sun when they need to.  And finally, we needed to make sure the area was and will be free of pesticides or herbicides.  Our monarch waystation and butterfly nursery will be organic!

Now that we have plants in place, we are thankful the water catchment project team has made such good progress.  We’ll soon have water piped down to the garden and should be all set for the Texas spring and summer.

Helping hands make the work go faster. (Courtesy of Phil Wyde)
George Brugnoli getting a little help from his friends.
(Courtesy of Phil Wyde)

After a long hard day of digging, and planting, the team took time out for a group photo op.  (Emily did great as our visiting paparazzi.  We even made the local paper!)

The butterfly crew! (Courtesy of Emily Hilley-Sierzchula)
The amazing butterfly crew! Left to right: Linda O’Nan, Terri Whaley, Sherry Bixler, Minnie Eaton, Lori Greco, Pat Campbell, MJ Hansen with Billy Huston kneeling.  
(Courtesy of Emily Hilley-Sierzchula/The Highlander)

Resources you can use to design and plant your own butterfly waystation/nursery:  the Monarch Watch website and the Texas Parks and Wildlife guide for our area.

"We can do it!"  Minnie's shirt says it all. (Courtesy of Emily Hilley-Sierzchula)
“We can do it!” Minnie’s shirt says it all.
(Courtesy of Emily Hilley-Sierzchula/The Highlander)

2 thoughts on “The butterfly nursery takes shape!”

  1. Thanks for the suggestion, Lynette. We do plan to cut back our tropical milkweed. Let’s share more ideas about how to have a successful Waystation.

  2. I am looking forward to visiting your butterfly garden . We are putting in a Monarch Waystation at Candlelight Ranxh this spring as well ( and I put in one at my guest house – the Hill House on 1431.
    Please make sure and cut your tropical milkweed to the ground in Oct and teach others to as well due to the negative influence tropical milkweed has on monarchs coast migration time .

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