Yesterday afternoon, as I was heading to the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts, I was struck by a realization. As I was admiring all of the beautiful gardens along the way, I thought to myself that it was sad that I had not come across a monarch butterfly in some time. An image then popped up in my mind. As I viewed the various gardens, I tried to picture what they each one would look like if they had a milk weed plant or two incorporated into the mix – milkweed is the food of the monarch.
Unfortunately, it appeared that the milk weed plant didn’t cut it in the beauty department, and therefore was axed in every single garden that I passed. We as a society have been trained to remove any sort of weed from our properties. That means that between habitat destruction, deadly chemicals (DOW Chemical), and our belief that every garden should yield heavenly floral delights, the monarch is pretty much screwed.
After visiting the festival, and feeling that all hope was lost for the monarch, I miraculously happened upon a yard on Highland Avenue that was different from every other garden that I had passed. It was a garden dedicated to the monarch. It was filled with towering milkweed plants – plants that I feel are actually quite beautiful even though they are not colorful, flowery, or sweet smelling. I have always been fascinated by the milkweed plant, even before I realized that they were the key to the survival of the monarch. Personally I find the milkweed plant lush and hearty.
I commend the Highland Avenue gardeners who obviously dedicated their front plot of land solely to helping the plight of the monarch. To me, this garden was the most interesting, the most wondrous, and the most thoughtful garden that I have come across in all of my walks throughout the city. The milkweed plant is indigenous to this area. It’s a rather neat looking plant, and is resilient to all sorts of weather patterns. Unfortunately, in most people’s gardening books, it just doesn’t fit in, and is therefore left out. And that means that the monarch butterfly is also left out.
We must remember that while certain plants might not be recommended by Martha Stewart, there’s hardly a person in this city that doesn’t love to see the sight of a beautiful monarch as it flits about the garden. Unfortunately, you can’t have one without the other. It’s time to replant the milkweed, and add some lively color to your garden, the city and the planet.