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I've been gardening and writing about gardening for more than 20 years, yet I find I'm always learning new things about the plants, insects and other critters that call my backyard home. That's the great thing about gardening — it's never boring! I've worked as a landscaper, on an organic farm, as a research technician in a plant pathology lab and ran a small cut-flower business, all of which inform my garden writing. Someone once asked me when I'll be finished with my gardens, to which I replied, "Never!" For me, gardening is a process, not a goal.
Incredible. That's the word that comes to mind when I think about the monarch butterfly. An insect with a body the size and weight of a paper clip can migrate hundreds of miles or more, with successive generations navigating the 1,500+ miles from the US and Canada to overwintering sites in central Mexico.
These miraculous creatures are in trouble. Though monarch populations have been declining during the past decade, they've seen sharp declines in the last few years. Scientists now believe this is a long-term trend, rather than a short-term phenomenon caused by specific weather events, such as drought or hurricanes. What can gardeners do to help?
Though you can't single-handedly bring back the monarchs, you can make your landscape friendly to monarchs throughout their lifecycle by creating an inviting place to lay eggs, sip nectar, and find shelter on a chilly evening.
The pristine lawns and landscapes that many have come to associate with a well-tended home have come at a cost: A surprising amount of pesticides are used to maintain them. As a nation, we need to reconsider our definition of a well-maintained yard and allow a few (nectar-rich) dandelions and other "imperfections." Here are some ways you can minimize the use of pesticides.
Last updated: 2/14/20
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