Monarch Butterfly Way Station, Too Much Rain, Love my Family,

Hello Friends!
I hope that most of you are finished with school and ready for YOUR well deserved break! I have been out of school since June 3 and am heavily into a more relaxed schedule; although, thoughts of school continue to find their way into my brain. I actually get some of my most creative thoughts when working in my garden or taking a long walk!

1.  For those of you who follow my blog, you know that each summer, I work in our school garden. I have struggled for years trying to figure out just how to make this meaningful to our students. We are a K-8 school in Illinois. This means, of course, that our growing season is in the summer when school is not in session. I have tried to start a Garden Club, but our kids are SO busy in the summer and with unpredictable weather, it just did not work. I tried working with Girls Scouts, our local 4H club, and just a few families. All work out well for a year, but when the next year comes, the interest is not there; usually because kids have moved on to other activities. So, this Fall, my principal handed me a grant proposal for starting a way station for Monarch butterflies. I got really excited about the idea, but sadly, I missed the deadline for turning in the proposal. This did not stop me, though, from continuing to put thought into the possibility of making this little garden into a way station. 

The life cycle of the Monarch butterfly has always been fascinating to me. The caterpillars ONLY eat the leaves of the milkweed plant. The milkweed plant has become endangered due to the herbicides being sprayed upon crop plants, so it is becoming increasingly difficult for female Monarchs to find a place in which to lay her eggs. Lucky for me, though, my husband and son actually ENCOURAGE the growth of milkweeds in a spot in our apple orchard. You can see here that we have some really healthy milkweed plants. (Can you see the little apples growing on the branches, too?)

 So, a few weeks ago, I asked my husband and son if we could try to transplant some of those milkweed plants into our little school garden. My son, who is EXTREMELY environmentally conscious thought it was a great idea, so armed with a spade and a HUGE bucket, we carefully scooped out the root ball of 3 milkweed plants and brought them back to school. They have struggled a bit adjusting to their new environment, but I THINK that they are going to survive. We also have planted flowers that (hopefully) will attract butterflies to the garden. I planted yellow cone flowers, Menarda, a butterfly bush, zinnias, larkspur, Chives, Sage, Lantana, Tickseed, and a few more that I cannot remember. I also planted seeds for pumpkins and sunflowers. Now, we just need the butterflies!

 2. This winter, I remember missing the sun and I am beginning to feel the same way again.... We have SO much rain and although, wonderful for my garden, I am missing a really hot summer day.....

3.  Besides gardening, I have been enjoying spending time with my family. This is Father's Day... love these people!

4.  My son and I have been enjoying cooking. We both are big whole foods people, so we are having fun exploring new tastes and flavor combinations.

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Until next time!