Digging Deep With The Garden Goddess, Cynthia Brian
|Posted on November 10, 2021|
|Digging Deep With The Garden Goddess, Cynthia Brian|
|Butterflies are free|
|By Cynthia Brian|
|A majestic monarch lands on a zinnia. Photos Cynthia Brian|
“If a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, could it cause a tornado in Texas” ~ Edward Lorenz, meteorologist
Almost everyone has heard of the “butterfly effect”. Originally based on weather and climate predictions, it has become a metaphor for the effects of chaos theory – the concept that small events can have huge, widespread consequences.
As I drove home from work one day in late October and listened to a radio show chronicling the rapid extinction of many species on our planet, I was struck by the comment that 99.9% of butterflies monarchs have disappeared from the west coast.
Only a few years ago, I had enjoyed a glorious November morning at Pismo Beach among thousands of monarchs fluttering through the gum trees of Monarch Grove.
Knowing that the Moraga Garden Club was aiming to revitalize the monarch butterfly population with its “Moraga for Monarchs” mission, I went directly to Rancho Laguna Park to investigate the progress of the project. I was blown away by how quickly the region has developed from a barren land to a pool of lush, organic and ecological beauty. The co-founders, Julie Stagg and Bobbie Preston, do not hesitate to point out that this is a community project of love with the support not only of the members of the Moraga Garden Club, but also of the town of Moraga. , Saint Mary’s College, Moraga Garden Center, Moraga Park and Recreation Foundation, many service organizations and wildlife experts.
The “Moraga for Monarchs” goal is simple: to repopulate monarchs throughout the city while providing public habitats for monarchs, educating citizens, and providing plants to support monarchs and other pollinators in private landscaping.
Following their example, each gardener can easily invite a host of beneficial people to take up residence in the garden. Their website is an ever-changing cornucopia of information on nectar plants, milkweed gardening, habitat building, as well as the support plants that are currently installed in the Monarch’s Garden. from Rancho Laguna Park.
By first planting nectar-bearing plants that bloom from February to April, and then monarch-specific nectar-bearing plants for flowering in October and November, a garden will be attractive to pollinators in all seasons. In addition to butterflies, bees, birds, hummingbirds, ladybugs, bats and other beneficial insects will scurry and dive into this nourishing landscape.
During my visit, bands of cosmos of many colors had grown to over eight feet in height. The purple, salmon and chartreuse zinnias glistened in the sun. Black-eyed Susan, purple verbena, agastache, lobelia, sage, mint, yarrow, and butterfly bush were home to bees and butterflies, including several monarchs. A rocky waterfall fed by the sun offers a sweet drink to travelers. The water feature is flanked by a dry stream of river rock which provides a sunbathing area for butterflies surrounded by cosmos, zinnias, and lobelia as a crafty caterpillar stands guard. Milkweed grows to feed caterpillars. Passionflower vines wind around the wooden pergola and woodchip paths wind through the plantations. Signage has been judiciously installed in the flower beds to inform visitors about the species planted. The habitat is fenced to ward off hungry predators as well as people. Soon benches will be installed for visitors to rest and watch. Volunteers tend the garden, carefully pull out the insidious bindweed, and lovingly prune, cut and sow.
There is something magical about witnessing the flight of a butterfly as it collects pollen on its legs and scatters it, flying from flower to flower. Anyone can enjoy a butterfly station next spring by planning now. If you want to erect an oasis of monarchs and pollinators, check out the resources provided by the Moraga Garden Club in conjunction with the Xerces Society and Monarch Joint Venture at moragagardenclub.com/moraga-for-monarchs.
Here is a list of milkweed and other plants that you will want to consider recommended by the Moraga for Monarchs Garden.
It is recommended that you only plant milkweed native to California.
Approved for Lamorinda
Narrow leaf (Asclepias fascicularis)
Seer (A. speciosa)
California (A. californica)
Woolly (A. vesta)
Heart leaf (A. cordifolia)
Not recommended for Lamorinda
Common milkweed (A. syriaca)
Butterfly weed (A. tuberosa)
Tropical milkweed (A. curassavica)
Black eyed susan
Hairy gum plant
Flaming meadow star
Marguerite by the sea
Sweet Joe Pye Weed
Butterflies may be free, but the monarch is on the possible extinction list. We must all do our part to save our planet by saving our pollinators. We already know that bees are declining and that so many other critical species are threatened. Adopt gardening habits that are free of pesticides and insecticides. By being proactive with organic gardening practices and establishing healthy habitats, we will all enjoy our personal havens while supporting our garden keepers.
I dream that when a butterfly flaps its wings in Lamorinda, it will cause peace in the world.
Nature lovers are welcome. The Moraga for Monarchs Butterfly Garden is free. For more information on Moraga for Monarchs or to donate visit
Good gardening. Good growth.
|A love heart on a zinnia shines brightly with the black-eyed Susan. Photos Cynthia Brian|
|The rocky solar powered waterfall and the artistic caterpillar. Photos Cynthia Brian|
|The pergola provides a centerpiece and shade for the fenced garden. Photos Cynthia Brian|
|A close up of a beautiful dark pink zinnia. Photos Cynthia Brian|
|This monarch stole black eyed Susan flower zinnias.|
|Purple agastache and purple zinnias at the Moraga Butterfly Garden.|
|Salmon zinnias in the monarch’s garden.|
| Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare your winter garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times bestselling author, actress, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach, and founder and executive director of Be the Star You Are! R 501 c3. Tune in to Cynthia’s StarStyler radio show on
www.StarStyleRadio.com. Buy copies of his books, including Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are!
www.cynthiabrian.com/boutique-en-ligne. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD and special discounts. Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden advice, and inspiring talks. Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com