Doing our Part

Our garden not only provides a welcome place for rescued dogs – it supports them through donations for commemorative bricks in our Memorial Garden Path and plaques on our Garden Wall.

This is Sally.


This young, puppy-faced dog has already had a lifetime of breeding. Those days are over. Pampering and TLC are our orders for her moving forward.


But pups are not the only creatures helped by our garden.

Monarch butterflies have a symbiotic relationship with Milkweed – their host plant.


A female monarch lays its eggs on a sprouted milkweed plant. The eggs hatch in four to five days producing tiny yellow, black and white banded caterpillars which feed solely on Milkweed. After three weeks of voracious munching, the caterpillar enters the pupa stage and gradually changes into an emerald-green case ringed with golden dots. After five weeks old, the transformation is complete and it emerges as a butterfly.


Two or more summer generations might be produced in the North before the migration begins for over-wintering in the South. Their principal winter vacation spot is Mexico, with some finding warm refuge in Florida, Cuba or Southern California.


Today, Monarchs are disappearing in huge numbers. Their habitat is being lost due to development, overuse of herbicides, climate change and roadside clearing programs. Once common, this beautiful butterfly is on the verge of collapse. We can all help by creating Milkweed “way stations” – which is exactly what we have done in the Memorial Garden.


While it is a perennial, hardy for zones 3-9 – the Milkweed we planted last year did not reappear. So we reinvested and have installed a couple dozen more plants in small patches throughout the garden.


The brilliant Gulf Fritillary, which flourished in our area until the 1960’s actually became extinct in our region.


For reasons unexplained, it made a reappearance around the year 2000. Its host plant is the Passionflower vine – which graces one of the entries to our garden.


The Gulf Frit has a particular taste for the nectar of Lantana, Mexican Sunflower and apparently, Verbena.


It’s no surprise that it has found a welcome home here.


And then there are the bees. Colony collapse is threatening honey bees everywhere. Honey bee pollination is critical for tree nuts, berries, fruits and vegetables. The loss of Honey bees threatens crop production and other species who depend on it as well.


There are many theories surrounding the cause of the disappearing bees, but little certainty. We can support them now by improving their health and habitat – and reducing the things known to be hazardous to both. Give up or severely limit the use of pesticides. If you must use them – avoid applying during mid-day hours, when honey bees are most likely to be out foraging for nectar and pollen on flowering plants.


Plant bee-friendly plants – those that are good sources of nectar and pollen such as bee balm, coneflower, goldenrod, aster, borage and sunflower.


Finally, there are those that we unintentionally support in the garden. Bunnies, lizards, snakes and birds are welcome guests – as long as they keep a respectable distance or don’t eat more than their share. The birds – which have been knocking off the grapes and gobbling them up – may be pushing their luck this year.


They better watch out. I bet we can find some bird-dogs around here somewhere!

Garden Ballet


Monarch Butterflies are doing dances all through the butterfly bed in the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden. We have created a haven for them with Butterfly Bush, Milkweed, Lantana, Verbena and a host of others.


As long as they stay still, I can pretty much capture them.


In flight – not so much.


I was able to capture the dance of this rare specimen, however. Quite the ballet – don’t you think?










Take a bow, Dee Dee! Such a cutie.


What is a Weed?

“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I always thought of Milkweed as a weed. I never knew that it had such mysterious powers.

I stumbled across Asclepias, or Tropical Milkweed, in our nursery this spring. I never had enough hours of direct sun in my own shady garden to even consider it. Listed among its virtues (color and height) was its ability to attract butterflies. In our area it grows as a perennial. Bonus. It will return year after year. I planted a couple of 6” pots at the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden and waited.

It wasn’t until later that I read that it was a preferred habitat of Monarch Butterflies. By the looks of things in the garden tonight, they are delighting in their home.

As the sun lowered and temperatures “cooled” to a more moderate 94-degrees, they were putting on quite a show; delighting in a dance that had everything to do with each other and nothing at all to do with me. It looked a lot like these Milkweed seeds.

Still as I stood, they would not settle long enough to capture them in a photo. So I put away the camera, returned to my watering duties, and just enjoyed them as they swooped, fluttered and glided through the air.

For their beauty and companionship in the garden, they are more than welcome to munch and make their home in the Milkweed of our Memorial Garden.