Monday, June 11, 2018

The monarch project

Article from the Times Colonist recently:
Golf courses take swing at saving monarch butterflies
by Susan Lazaruk of the Vancouver Sun.
Article found in the June 9th edition of The Times Colonist

VANCOUVER — Numbers of the majestic monarch butterfly have been in a free fall, but a plan hatched with the help of golf courses across North America, including one on Vancouver Island, is designed to bring them flying back.

The number of the summer visitors to flower gardens and wildflower fields has plummeted 90 per cent over the past 20 years, according to Audubon International.
“And it’s worse in the western population, where you are, where there’s been a 95 per cent drop in numbers,” said Marcus Gray of Audubon International.

In Canada, the monarch is listed as threatened on the Canadian government’s species at risk registry.

“The situation is not good,” he said.

The species at risk website says the eastern migratory group moves between an area east of the Rockies and the Oyamel Forest of central Mexico, where “declines of greater than 50 per cent have occurred over the past decade.” The western migratory group from southern B.C. overwinters along coastal California.

To reverse the downward trend, Audubon, along with the Environmental Defense Fund, in January launched Monarchs in the Rough, which provides free seeds to grow milkweed — where monarchs lay their eggs and on which caterpillars feed — and nectar-producing wildflowers to golf courses that volunteer to participate.

The Fairmont Chateau Whistler and the Mill Bay area’s Arbutus Ridge golf courses are among the 30 courses across Canada and the 250 across the U.S. that have committed to growing the flowers on a half hectare of land on their courses.

Chateau Whistler has signed up and is awaiting its shipment of seeds, said the hotel’s head gardener, Jennifer O’Rourke.

She said Monarchs in the Rough fits in with the hotel’s plan to increase the number of pollinating plants to attract bees, hummingbirds and butterflies, she said. The resort’s bee hives produce 635 kilograms of honey a year for use in its restaurants.

“We don’t want to have a negative effect on the area,” said O’Rourke. “We occupy a large chunk of land on the side of the mountain and we want to keep it as natural and attractive as it can be.”

The planting program has been so successful that Audubon International upped its original goal of 100 courses to 500 after they immediately had 250 join, said Gray.

It is hoped the wildflower meadows will attract more monarchs and other butterflies and bees and birds, he said.

The program is open to any golf course in Canada, the U.S. or Mexico.

Monarchs are a critical element in the North American ecosystem, pollinating a number of wild flowers and serving as food for birds and other insects.

Gray said Monarchs in the Rough can also serve to educate golfers and other visitors to the courses about the importance of planting flowers and keeping pesticide use down.

“Anybody that has property can plant flowers that will attract butterflies,” he said.

Even with the 90 to 95 per cent drop over the last two decades, there are good and bad years for monarch populations.

This year will likely be a particularly bad year because of extreme weather last fall, according to scientists.

Kinds of Milkweed:

 A photo from July 22, 2017 of the plant I received from Dave Dube a few years ago.  It is the showy milkweed, Asclepias Speciosa.  It grew in a tall pot for a few years. Autumn of 2017 I renovated a flower bed in the front garden (by the water meter) and transplanted this one and at least another one that I had in a pot.  The showy 'Davies" plant from Dave has survived the transplant.  I do not see any others in that renovated bed.  I also renovated a flower bed in the back garden and transplanted more milkweed plants that I had started.  I do not see any of them up as yet.  I had 2 swamp milkweed plants from the Cannor nursery.  In the 'cutting garden' at the back, I have a butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)growing and blooming in orange/yellow. 
Another photo from July 2017 of one of the plants grown from seed from Dave Dube.  This was transplanted to one of the renovated beds.  I will have to see if it survived the transplant.  At the moment I have 2 smaller black pots with milkweed starts.  They are the Soul mate swamp milkweed (asclepias incarnate), pink from Strictly Medicinal Seeds nursery in Oregon.   I shall try to get them transplanted later in the Autumn, this year.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

My garden in early March, and some of the light garden in flower

 A photo of all the signs before the bridge at Reedsport, California from our trip. 
 miniature African violet in its decorative pot.  The pot looks better than the flower.  :)
 The species Cattalaya Intermedia in bloom from late February to early March.  It has a nice fragrance.
 The white Phalenopsis, that was the blue one when I purchased it a few years ago.  It had a nice show of five flowers.  Was starting its bloom when we left on our trip on February 16 and is still in bloom now, on March 18.  Dan took good care of the plants while we were away.  Thanks Dan, for your care of our home.
 The Harry Lauders walking stick putting on its annual show of golden catkins.
 below the golden catkins the epimedium is dressed in its Spring burgundy and growing out of the green moss.  It seems to like this location and is thriving and blooming in light yellow.  This moss garden is beginning to fill in with the moss and the shade plants.  With the plum tree gone, I should have less debris to clean off the moss. 
Some of the crocuses in the strip along in front of the two rectangles of the front boulevard garden.

The past week we have had some warmer temperatures, but I have not been out gardening.  I have had some things to catch up on after our trip.  Pat is putting together my new table and chairs.  I have had a little time to work on the November in the garden album of my ancient web page.  I hope to have it uploaded by the end of the month.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Trip to Southern California

From February 16 to March 8, 2018, we took our new Unity motor home on its maiden run to Southern California.  We were traveling south on the #101 trying to keep ahead of a storm that was rapidly going south.  We were unable to stay ahead of the cold winds and rain/sleet.  But we finally travelled far enough south to get into some warmer weather.  We spent a few days in the Desert Palms area and then headed north again, up the I-5.   We got to Sacramento where we met another storm heading south.  We spent two nights in the campground there.  The second day was a trip to Rocklin to the Mercedes Dealer.  The engine light had come on some days ago and we had to get it looked at.  This half hour trip in high winds and sleet was extremely stressful.  We made it to the appointment on time and had the matter resolved.  It was a software update that caused the light to come on.  The trip back to the campground was less of a stress as the winds and rain were letting up.  Next morning the weather looked far better.  We had clear sailing up the I-5 into warmer weather than we had down South.  Every day of the trip we were learning something new about the Unity; that is: how to operate things.  We still have much to learn, but are much more comfortable with it, than we were while setting out in a storm. 
The top photo is from the coast of Oregon.  The winds made the ocean spectacular to watch.  The bottom photo is somewhere in the Yucca Valley.
In the garden the crocuses, daffodils and wind flowers are in bloom.  The Harry Lauder's walking stick bush is dressed in its long golden catkins.  The pond/moss/Japanese garden area looks so much different with the old plum tree cut down.  Looking over the deck I get a clear view of the pond and rest of the area. There will be more light, so perhaps I can attempt to grow water lilies again.  There seems to be 4 fish left in the pond.  Maybe I can get shubunkins when it warms up again.