What’s new in natural yards? May 2017 #2

As the number of monarch butterflies continues to decline, scientists have calculated that more than 1.8 billion new milkweed plants need to be planted in order to provide monarchs with enough places to lay their eggs and recover from the brink of extinction.

“‘To put that in context, that’s more than three milkweed plants for every man, woman and child in the United States,’ said Karen Oberhauser, professor and conservation biologist in the University of Minnesota Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology.”

The good news is that milkweed – the only plant monarch butterflies will lay their eggs on – is easy to grow. The milkweed family contains over 100 species. Wisconsin alone has native milkweed species that will grow in wet spots, dry spots, sunny spots, and shady spots. Milkweed is able to thrive in roadside ditches and along the edges of farm fields, and was once so abundant across America that many cities labeled it a noxious weed and forbade property owners to plant it.

Now, attitudes towards milkweed are changing. But attitudes are not enough. If we want to protect monarchs before it’s too late, we need to actually plant milkweed in our yards – and lots of it.

Any native plant nursery should have local milkweed species available as plants and seeds. Right now is the perfect time of year to add some to your garden.

 

What’s new in natural yards? May 2017 #2

Who else is writing about natural yards?

Madison’s Isthmus newspaper ran an article in 2012 that declared the age of the turf grass lawn to be over.

The New Yorker published a similar article in 2008.

The New York Times Magazine printed an article questioning lawns as early as 1989.

Bringing Nature Home comprehensively describes why natural yards are critical to the preservation of ecosystem services.

Silent Spring, a landmark book in the environmental movement, discusses how maintaining lawns through applications of chemicals is harmful to homeowners as well as to wildlife.

(Outside the Madison library system? Find the books on Amazon here and here.)

Who else is writing about natural yards?