Sunday, July 12, 2015

Milkweed Patch

I grow milkweed in a smallish patch at the front of the house, just 5 or 6 stems -- waiting for a Monarch.

The Milkweed Patch in the Front Garden

 The milkweed has been in the front yard for several years now, and each year the original clump endeavors to expand its influence further and further afield. Ditch milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) produces a humongous root system with one goal in mind -- to establish new plants in as many spots as its root system can reach.  Little shoots spring from the main root system all over my yard 10 or 15 feet away from the mother clump -- but they are easy to manage. A slight tug on the shoot will dislodge it from its root segment. In that way I manage the spread of my milkweed, but the roots grow on. 

This year was different. The news from environmentalists about Monarch health was horrible.  Loss of habitat and food sources were cited as causes of Monarch decline.  Gardeners were called upon to plant milkweed for local Monarchs, so instead of limiting my patch to 5 or 6 plants in the garden, I allowed most of the pop-up shoots to stand.  I had a forest of milkweed plants in my front yard, a sea of milkweed that would surely be irresistible to Monarchs.

And all the plants grew and bloomed. Ah, the blooms! Milkweeds in full bloom smell divine, so divine in fact, that it's impossible to walk past them in a hurry.  Savoring each step redolent with the aroma of milkweed blossoms is an experience to remember.  And savoring is what the bees and wasps did, too.  The whole patch, the whole front yard, was abuzz with insect life, but no Monarchs.

My son-in-law says there was a Monarch in the garden a while back but I didn't see it.  In fact I didn't see one Monarch in my milkweed yard all season, but I did have the aroma.

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