I have been traveling a lot and so am tardy in sharing some very good news. I’ve heard from wildlife gardeners near and far that their milkweed patches have been discovered by egg-laying Monarchs. Caterpillars are still being found, lots of caterpillars! Chrysalises too, like the one above that I enjoyed today in Virginia Rettig’s lovely North Cape May wildlife garden!
Today I stopped at the West Cape May Elementary School to see their “Schoolyard Habitat” and was thrilled to find their thriving Common Milkweed patch with at least 5 Monarch chrysalises on the brick school and in under steps of wooden ladders placed near the garden (for just that purpose — a safe spot off the beaten path). Hopefully more and more schools will create and utilize outdoor wildlife gardens like this to connect students with the natural world.
I also stopped by the Cape May Bird Observatory’s Northwood Center (701 E. Lake Drive, Cape May Point, NJ) and was dazzled by their Monarch Migration display and by their terrariums full of hungry caterpillars and chrysalises!
Don’t miss the Cape May Monarch Monitoring Project’s fun opportunities to learn about Monarchs this fall:
MONARCH TANK TALK
Fridays: Sept. 23, 30, and Oct. 7
10:00 to 10:15 a.m.
At the CMBO Northwood Center (701 E. Lake Drive, Cape May Point, NJ) . Free.
MONARCH TAGGING DEMOS
Every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, & Wednesday
Sept. 14 through October 16 (weather permitting)
2:00 to 2:45 p.m.
Meets at Cape May Point State Park at the East Shelter, the picnic pavilion next to the Hawkwatch Platform. No preregistration required. Family-friendly. FREE.
As many of you know I have written many posts about Monarchs and Milkweeds for “Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens.” I’d love to share the links with you here so that you can do more reading, but sadly that lovely website is no longer.
Chris Clemenson of Clemenson Farms Native Nursery shared this exciting news:
“For years those of us who are part of the Native Plant Society of NJ have been trying to encourage retailers to recognize the need to offer native plants for the public. Please pass on the word to all your native plant friends that several of the ACE hardware stores in southern NJ will offer native plants for sale and at very reasonable pricing during a Memorial Day Weekend sale (and afterwards as long as supplies last).”
“Joe and Cindy Smith own the ACE hardware stores in Vineland, Egg Harbor Township, Northfield, Brigantine, and Galloway. Cindy is a bird enthusiast and has been offering lots of bird related products for years. Cindy attended one of Pat Sutton’s lectures and really got turned on to the idea of natives (she has been installing natives to transform her yard into a native bird habitat ever since). She’s passionate about getting the word out on the need to plant natives.”
“Please encourage folks to go and buy plants at these stores this weekend (and as long as supplies last) AND to be sure to thank the store manager for offering native plants!”
For their Ace Hardware 2015 Memorial Weekend Sale the following stores will have 3 different milkweeds (Butterfly Weed, Common Milkweed, and Swamp Milkweed), Wild Blue Indigo, and Coral Honeysuckle (grown by Clemenson Farms Native Nursery, so we know these plants are safe and neonicitinoids free) for the amazing price of $4.99. One other grower is supplying natives for this sale (not sure of their plant line up). In June these stores will host a Father’s Day Sale including more of Clemenson Farms Native Nursery plants including Seaside Goldenrod, New England Aster, Joe Pye Weed, Little Bluestem, Red Bee Balm, and Spotted Horsemint.
Here are the 5 ACE Hardware Stores in southern NJ where these native plants will be for sale during their 2015 Memorial Day Weekend Sale (and afterwards as long as supplies last):
Back in February the Press of Atlantic City pointed the finger at wildlife gardeners as contributing to the demise of Monarchs, specifically that by planting Tropical Milkweed we “may be killing” Monarchs. My e-mail box overflowed. My phone rang off the hook. I promised to get back to folks but didn’t get a chance until now.
I’ve addressed the issue and the latest news of Monarch numbers this past winter in Mexico, which directly affects the coming year.
To learn more be sure to read my latest post on Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens:
PLEASE leave any comments in the comment section at the end of my post. That way other readers can benefit from your comment and my reply (rather than writing to me directly). Thanks a bunch!
Many are concerned and planting milkweeds, but there too you have to be careful of where you buy your native milkweeds. Don’t buy milkweeds from big box stores because many plants sold by big box stores have been treated with insecticides called neonicitinoids. Monarch caterpillars will die eating these plants! Read more HERE.
Other posts I’ve written about Monarchs may also be of interest:
At the peak of Cape May County’s world-famous fall Monarch migration, tour diverse gardens that have hosted Monarchs since May. Each features native nectar plants and as many as five different kinds of milkweed (used by Monarchs for egg laying to create the next generation). Expect Monarchs and other butterflies, Monarch eggs, caterpillars, and maybe even a chrysalis. The complex Monarch migration will be both explained and enjoyed.
I’ve worked with 18 garden owners to line up this set of Garden Tours. Don’t miss this opportunity to see a fine selection of wildlife gardens with lovely stands of MILKWEED: Common Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed, Butterfly Weed, Whorled Milkweed, Purple Milkweed, and Tropical Milkweed. The annual, Tropical Milkweed, will be in bloom. Most of our native perennial milkweeds have already bloomed, but their robust leaves still pull in mating and egg-laying Monarchs well into the fall, as our local Monarchs create yet another generation. These gardens are coming into their fall attire, which will be as stunning as the summer garden, yet completely different.
2014 TOURS OF PRIVATE MONARCH GARDENS
10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 19 — Mid-County Tour, including amazing gardens along the Delaware Bayshore in North Cape May and Villas Saturday, Sept. 20 — North Tour, including Pat Sutton’s garden and other gems from Cape May Court House north to South Seaville Sunday, Sept. 21 — South Tour, including gardens south of the Cape May Canal
Expect these gardens to also be hosting lingering hummingbirds, butterflies, caterpillars, stunning native plants, and undoubtedly some surprises. Fall migration will be underway, so anything’s possible.
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. Limit: 25 per tour. Three Tours / Cost per tour: $35 members (NJ Audubon), $45 nonmembers.
(Join three tours at a discounted rate of $90 members, $115 nonmembers.)
These tours require preregistration with payment.
Registration: you may register by phone at 609.898.8848 with a credit card or send payment to the Nature Center of Cape May, 1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204 (noting which tours and full names, addresses, and phone numbers of registrants). NCCM reserves the right to cancel programs, and refunds are available only if NCCM cancels the event. Walk-ins are welcome on a space-available basis. Become a member of NJAS and receive discounts in the gift shop and on many programs.
This is the 23rd year I’ve been leading these tours of private backyard wildlife gardens. And they just keep getting yummier and yummier!
Mark your calendar with the following dates & plan to join me for one, several, or all NINE of the 2014 “Tours of Private Wildlife Gardens” (pdf) that I will again be leading for NJ Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May.
Alert your friends, family, neighbors, … anyone you’re trying to HOOK on wildlife gardening!
We’ll be visiting 18 gardens over a 3-day period – six delightful and unique gardens each day. These wildlife-friendly gardens offer so many ideas in the way of design, use of space, plant combinations, native plants that are lovely AND beneficial to wildlife, “chocolate cake” nectar plants, key caterpillar plants, great native shrub ideas, “how to” create your own meadow ideas, garden accents and features like misters, dragonfly ponds, arbors . . .
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, enjoying it with a group of fellow wildlife gardeners, all while being entertained by buzzing and hungry and feisty hummingbirds, dazzling dragonflies, glittering butterflies and other pollinators! Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it ? !
Enjoy a SNEAK PEAK (South Tour, North Tour, Mid-County Tour) into some of the gardens we’ve visited in the past. I’ve updated these links to include many new gardens added in recent years.
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 — 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
At the peak of Ruby-throated Hummingbird migration, we’ll savor an array of diverse gardens that have hosted nesting hummingbirds since May and are now drawing in dozens of migrants. Native nectar plants, healthy insect populations, water sources, and adequate cover are key elements of each garden.
Tours of Private MONARCH (butterfly) Gardens — 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
At the peak of Cape May County’s world-famous fall Monarch migration, tour diverse gardens that have hosted Monarchs since May. Each features native nectar plants and as many as five different kinds of milkweed (used by Monarchs for egg laying to create the next generation). With the downward spiral of the Monarch population, time will tell, but we hope our gardens will be hosting Monarchs and Monarch eggs, caterpillars, and maybe even a chrysalis. The complex Monarch migration will be both explained and enjoyed. Fall gardens will be full of other butterflies and many interesting pollinators.
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.
If some of you are keen to create a butterfly & hummingbird garden, be sure to download the article & plant list I wrote / created:
Limit: 25 per tour. Nine Tours / Cost per tour: $35 members (NJ Audubon), $45 nonmembers. (Join three tours at a discounted rate of $90 members, $115 nonmembers.) These tours require preregistration with payment.
Registration: you may register by phone at 609.898.8848 with a credit card or send payment to the Nature Center of Cape May, 1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204 (noting which tours and full names, addresses, and phone numbers of registrants).
NCCM reserves the right to cancel programs, and refunds are available only if NCCM cancels the event. Walk-ins are welcome on a space-available basis. Become a member of NJAS and receive discounts in the gift shop and on many programs.