SeaWeeder Cindi and I recently visited the pollinator garden planted April 23 at La Colonia Community Center. We were delighted to see that the Yarrow has tripled in size, other nectar plants are spreading, and some of the milkweed is starting to bloom. No signs of monarch eggs or caterpillars yet, but the season is young! And the real goal -- a pollinator habitat -- seems to be taking shape.
Cindi supervised planting at La Colonia back in April and is nursing a stampede of monarchs in her certified Monarch Waystation garden. At last count, she tallied 75 caterpillars and chrysalides!
Back home, I checked the trays of native milkweed seed I have been faithfully nurturing for two months and my smile turned upside down. Mostly dirt. Still! I've seen monarchs flutter by the still small milkweed plants in my pollinator patch, and three were eaten back to the ground. But, so far, neither caterpillars nor chrylasides have been spied.
Yet, out in the vegetable bed, milkweed is springing up -- probably from a seed blown after I let last year's milkweed crop go to froth. In the front yard, along the sidewalk, another. And everyday, I see something new emerging in the "dedicated" pollinator patch that is seeded with milkweed and nectar plants.
In Cindi's milkweed seed trays? Also, mostly, still dirt, she tells me, with a sigh. Still, we water and wait, knowing that growing native milkweed from seed is in semi-experimental stages throughout the County, and that our coastal environment and climate is far different from the inland chapparal where it can be found growing wild.
When it comes to supporting our Western monarchs and other pollinators here, it is increasingly clear that we citizen scientists may be invaluable to the cause. When you share your experience -- happy or sad -- they may help us all learn how to nurture the native plants out pollinators need to thrive.
So. How is your pollinator garden growing? Or not!
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