Tours of Private Monarch Gardens

Monarch on Milkweed

Hi Gardening Friends,

The “Tours of Private Monarch Gardens” are fast approaching. And well timed indeed.

All our gardens are swarming with Monarchs, a host of other butterflies, hummingbird moths, and hummingbirds (though by mid-September Ruby-throated Hummingbird numbers will lessen).

Since August 30th at least a dozen Monarchs have been in view at any one time in my own garden, lilting about, sailing from wildflower to wildflower, dashing after one another, and even a few have been paired up and mating and laying eggs. It’s a magic time of year indeed.

Migrating Monarchs from the North are now moving through with each cold front. And our local Monarchs, not yet ready to migrate, are mating and creating yet one more generation that will migrate south later this fall.

The “Old Fashioned” Sedum with the soft pink flowers began blooming this week & is carpeted with Monarchs, American Ladies, Common Buckeyes, hairstraks, Sachems (a type of skipper), and more! Tropical Milkweed is still in full bloom and, being an annual, will bloom right up until the frost — truly a show stopper! One of my patches of Tropical Milkweed had 6 nectaring Monarchs on it this morning. On closer inspection I spotted a number of Monarch caterpillars happily munching leaves below the nectaring adults.

Common Milkweed is looking a bit nasty right now, having bloomed back in July, but despite that its leaves are still attracting adult Monarchs looking to lay eggs. In fact right now all the other milkweeds in our Monarch Gardens (Tropical, Swamp, Butterflyweed, & Common Milkweed) are covered with Monarch eggs, caterpillars, hidden chrysalides, and adults continuing to lay new eggs daily.

We’re all having great fun monitoring our Milkweed patches and looking for these hidden treasures that will be part of the final fall generation of migrating Monarchs. By the time of the tours New England Aster, Seaside Goldenrod, and other fall blooming plants will be in full bloom and STUNNING! My Coral Honeysuckle is yet having another resurgence and in full bloom again, making lingering hummingbirds happy.

The Cape May Bird Observatory’s Monarch Monitoring Project has begun and this fall’s intern, Jenny Howard, is already tallying numbers day-by-day and tagging migrants. Learn of CMBO’s FREE Monarch Tagging Demos.

Details of the Nature Center of Cape May’s Semtember “Tours of Private Monarch Gardens” follows:

  • Friday (September 10) we’ll tour “Mid-County Gardens” (North Cape May to Rio Grande)
  • Saturday (September 11) we’ll tour “North Gardens” (Eldora & Dennisville & South Seaville south to Goshen & Reeds Beach)
  • Sunday (September 12) we’ll tour “South Gardens” (Cape May, Cape May Point, and farmland south of Cape May Canal)

My own garden is on the “North Tour” on Saturday, but all the gardens are GEMS and stunning and offer great learning opportunities, plus lots of fun wildlife watching. The tours are a great way to get ideas for your own garden and to see first hand various garden designs, plant combinations, native plants that are lovely, nectar plants, caterpillar plants, great shrub ideas, garden accents and features like misters, dragonfly ponds, arbors, and of course LOTS of wildlife.

Imagine getting a glimpse into private backyard wildlife gardens, interacting with the artists who created them, having each and every garden and wildlife question answered, and enjoying it with a group of fellow wildlife gardeners. Please consider joining me for one or all of these tours.

Details about the tours (pricing, what to bring, where to meet) & how to sign up for these September Tours are at the end of this e-mail. Or call the Nature Center of Cape May TODAY to book your place(s) by calling: 609-898-8848 (be prepared to pay for your spot, preregistration is required to hold your place).

If some of you are keen to create a butterfly & hummingbird garden, be sure to download the article & plant list I wrote / created:

Plan to join me on one, two, or all 3 of the remaining 2010 “Tours of Private Wildlife Gardens” that I will be leading for NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May.

Tours of Private Butterfly Gardens in Cape May

Wildlife habitat garden in MayHi Gardening Friends,

The “Tours of Private Butterfly Gardens” are fast approaching: Friday (July 16), Saturday (July 17), and Sunday (July 18). My garden is on the “North Tour” on Sunday, but all the gardens are stunning and offer great learning opportunities, plus lots of fun wildlife watching.

The tours are a great way to get ideas for your own garden and to see first hand various garden designs, plant combinations, native plants that are lovely, nectar plants, caterpillar plants, great shrub ideas, garden accents and features like misters, dragonfly ponds, arbors, and of course LOTS of wildlife, including BUTTERFLIES and Hummingbird Moths!

Imagine getting a glimpse into private backyard wildlife gardens, interacting with the artists who created them, having each and every garden and wildlife question answered, and enjoying it with a group of fellow wildlife gardeners.

Wildlife habitat garden in JunePlease consider joining me for one or all of these tours. Details about the tours & how to sign up for these July Tours or the August or September Tours are at the end of this post.

Just today a Monarch is sailing all around our garden laying eggs on the dozens of Milkweed plants, plus nectaring on Common Milkweed’s fragrant blossoms. Red Admirals have been abundant this year and the many eggs laid in mid-May on my Stinging Nettle have resulted in the next generation of Red Admirals just emerging now.

My ponds, now free of duckweed (which snuck in on a “gift plant”) after a labor-intensive “clean out the ponds” project, are busy places with lots of dragonflies laying eggs, and just today we spotted dozens of frog or toad tadpoles (in mid-June Gray Tree Frogs and Fowler’s Toads were both courting at our ponds).

Hummingbirds are zipping around and frequenting the 2nd bloom of Coral Honeysuckle, just-opening Cannas, salvias, and lots of other goodies & insects.

Be sure to mark your calendars with the dates below & plan to join me on one, several, or all of the 2010 “Tours of Private Wildlife Gardens” that I will again be leading for NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May.

wildlife habitat garden in JulyTours of Private BUTTERFLY Gardens

  • Friday, July 16: SOUTH “Cape Island” – 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 17: MID-COUNTY “North Cape May to Rio Grande” – 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 18: NORTH “Goshen to Dennisville” – 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

More butterfly and hummingbird gardens are tucked into Cape May County than probably anywhere else in the country. Mid-July is the time of peak butterfly diversity and numbers. Gardens look completely different from one month to the next (so seriously consider all 9 tours). Learn the magic combination of native nectar plants and caterpillar plants that makes a garden especially attractive to butterflies. Design ideas and new wildlife plants will be showcased while tour participants are entertained by a blizzard of butterflies and hummingbirds.

Tours of Private HUMMINGBIRD Gardens

  • Friday, August 13: NORTH “Goshen to Dennisville” — 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 14: SOUTH “Cape Island” — 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, August 15: MID-COUNTY “North Cape May to Rio Grande” — 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

At the peak of Ruby-throated Hummingbird migration savor an array of diverse gardens that have hosted nesting hummingbirds since May. Learn the magic combination of native nectar plants, healthy insect populations, and adequate cover that makes a garden especially attractive to hummingbirds.

Tours of Private MONARCH Gardens

  • Friday, Sept. 10: MID-COUNTY “North Cape May to Rio Grande” — 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 11: NORTH “Goshen to Dennisville” — 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Sept. 12: SOUTH “Cape Island” — 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Cape May County is world famous for its concentration of migrating Monarchs. At the peak of their fall migration savor an array of diverse gardens that have hosted Monarchs since May. Learn the magic combination of native nectar plants and caterpillar plants (five or more different kinds of milkweed) that makes a garden especially attractive to Monarchs and many other butterflies. Expect to see Monarch eggs, caterpillars, and maybe even a chrysalis.

TOUR DETAILS AND PRICING

Gardening naturalist and author, Pat Sutton, leads these tours, which include her own garden in Goshen(North tour). Bring lunch since the group will eat in one of the gardens.

Before the tour download, print, & bring along (for ease of note taking) NJ Audubon’s article, “How to Create a Butterfly andHummingbird Garden,” and the “Recommended Plantings to Attract Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and Moths,” by Patricia Sutton.

Limit: 25 per tour. Cost per tour: $30 members, $40 nonmembers. (Join three tours at a discounted rate of $75 members, $100 nonmembers.)

These tours require preregistration with payment. You may register by phone at 609.898.8848 with a credit card  (noting which tours and full names of registrants) at the Nature Center of Cape May.

New Wildlife Gardening Workshops

Join me if you can for these fun and information-filled workshop!  Or help by spreading the word & letting potential wildlife gardeners know of this series of 3 workshops in the “Gardening for Wildlife” series that will be offered through the Nature Center of Cape May.
Share with family, friends, & coworkers!!!  The more the merrier.  Plus, the more wildlife habitats around us, the more wildlife we’ll see, as we all know!  So, by all means, pass this along to others!!!!   November 7, 14, and December 5 — all Saturdays — 10 am to 3 pm

GARDENING FOR WILDLIFE WORKSHOPS with Pat Sutton

Saturday, November 7: “How to Create a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife”

Saturday, November 14: “How to Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden”

Saturday, December 5: “How to Create a Wildflower Meadow & Wildlife Pond”

10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Join Pat Sutton for this series of three full-day, property-owner workshops on how to enhance your backyard landscaping for wildlife. The workshops will be held at NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May at 1600 Delaware Ave., Cape May, NJ 08204; (609)898-8848;

Native plants and wildlife-friendly practices are the key.  Come learn how to plan your own backyard, no matter how small, to attract showy hummingbirds, butterflies, nesting birds such a bluebirds, wintering birds, and so much more!  Valuable handouts will include Pat’s list of native trees, shrubs, and vines most utilized by wildlife and a list of primary book and internet resources.  These workshops have been scheduled for early winter, the perfect time to begin planning next year’s gardens, order plants and seeds, and dream of gardens to come.  The first workshop is the backbone to the series (try not to miss it) and will supply a good foundation for the following sessions.  Each will include a question-and-answer session and a visit to a nearby backyard habitat.  During a working lunch, participants will have the opportunity to discuss their own gardens.  Before the workshops, download, print, and bring NJ Audubon’s articles “How to Create a Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden,” and the “Recommended Plantings to Attract Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and Moths,” by workshop instructor Pat Sutton.  Available at:

Limit: 30 participants; preregistration is required.  To preregister and hold your space, send payment & which workshop(s) you wish to attend to the NCCM (1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204; (609) 898-8848.

Cost/workshop: $20 member of NJ Audubon Society, $30 nonmember (includes handouts).

Because the final workshop is so unique, I’ve shared some additional information about it below:

HOW TO CREATE A WILDFLOWER MEADOW & WILDLIFE POND with Pat Sutton Saturday, December 5 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Join Pat Sutton at the Nature Center of Cape May (1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ) for this property-owner workshop on how to enhance your backyard landscaping for wildlife by creating a wildflower meadow and a wildlife pond.  Many areas have lost their meadows to subdivisions and corporate headquarters landscaped with acres and acres of sod lawn — a monoculture, a green desert for wildlife, offering NO cover, NO food (nectar, seeds, etc.), and NO beauty (blooming wildflowers and lovely native grasses).

Clouds of butterflies and nesting bluebirds can still be found where meadows abound.  If you (or your corporate headquarters) have more lawn than you need and mowing gobbles up precious time and expensive gas, consider turning some of this lawn into a wildflower meadow.  Even a small meadow will make a big difference to wildlife.

A meadow can be simple to create and Sutton will share the basics.  Learn how to convert lawn to meadow, how to maintain your meadow in a simple fashion over time, and how to make it attractive to neighbors and visitors.

While you’re at it, consider adding a pond to your wildlife habitat.  Frogs, toads, and dragonflies all need freshwater ponds for egg laying to create future generations.  Even a tiny pond will attract them.   Learn what a true wildlife pond is and how simple it is to create — NO fish, NO need for running water, filters, and all the fuss.

Sutton will share the basics of how to create a wildlife pond and, even more importantly, how to maintain it so that wildlife benefits.  Learn which native plants to add to the pond (and which problem plants to avoid), and don’t be surprised if Sutton offers to share native plants from her very own ponds.

Don’t make the same mistake that others have made by creating a “fish pond” or an outdoor bathtub.  In a true wildlife pond expect to attract and get to watch the amazing life cycle of huge Green Darner dragonflies or count a growing population of Leopard Frogs and Green Frogs that found your pond as if by magic.  Watch butterflies and hummingbirds nectaring on Pickerelweed flowers in your pond.  Create it and they will come!

This workshop will visit to a nearby backyard habitat and, during a working lunch, participants will have the opportunity to discuss their own property. Participation is limited to thirty; preregistration is highly recommended.

Cost: $20 member of NJ Audubon Society, $30 nonmember (includes handouts).
Call NCCM to register at 609-898-8848.