Create more butterfly habitat through humility

When Carole invited me to be a part of this community, I took some time to reflect on the common threads between those of us who try to garden sustainably. Love of beautiful plants and a desire to create more butterfly habitat are voted in unanimously among us. Sometimes and naturally there’s different opinions and values, born out of different experiences. Listening to different folks pontificate and trying to express myself about my perspectives on gardening and ethics forces me to evaluate how I like being approached when someone wants to teach me something I may not be aware I need to learn.

I’ve been reading Beautiful Wildlife Garden posts regularly since I found the site in mid-summer, 2011. Recently I’ve been familiarizing myself more with other contributor’s styles, content and backgrounds. I have noticed and appreciated the undeniably safe environment that’s been created here, as everyone is honest about their gardening mistakes. It feels natural to admit mistakes I’ve made and my habitat gardening history’s long learning curve. It also relaxes me, allows me to be receptive to new information that much quicker.

I believe it is that way for everyone I meet. Increasing butterfly habitat by adding host plants is necessary for butterfly preservation. But communicating this sincere desire of mine and need of the butterflies to a friend who lacks information on ecological gardening requires a gentle method and humility.

Here is one action I plan to take this holiday season to quietly encourage my loved ones to create butterfly habitat around them in their personal microclimates:

I have a lettuce box filled to the brim with native plant seeds my friend Dawn Foglia and I collected at her nursery this fall.

20121205-230402.jpg These seeds are the building blocks for butterfly habitat, in the mix we have some Asclepias tuberosa (butterflyweed), which is the quintessential Monarch butterfly host plant. I will bag these native plant seeds up and distribute them as stocking stuffers to my family, friends, clients, colleagues and neighbors, with information on winter seed sowing, stratification and butterfly host plant requirements.

Do you have any ideas this holiday season to encourage the people you know to create more butterfly habitat in your ecosystem using the attitudes of generosity and humility?

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  1. says

    Jesse – welcome to the fold and clearly you know by now you are among friends :) Your path mirrors mine to a great extent, and I love how you are “paying it forward” by making seeds available for other budding habitat gardeners in the making. We ought to share info about growing native plants from seed in cold climates…especially northeast natives some of which require special treatment…
    Ellen Sousa recently posted..Use Your Weeds! Violets as Groundcover

    • says

      Thanks Ellen.
      When I gave a presentation to the Adirondack Gardening Club last month, we talked about winter seed sowing. I am surprised at how simple it is. I gave the ladies who showed up that day seeds, with encouragement to get outdoors this winter! It feels empowering to not have to solely rely on retailers for native plants.

  2. says

    Always nice to hear from a butterfly lover. I love the idea of giving native seeds as Holiday presents! Recently, I visited a Monarch Grove for overwintering monarchs in California. Those guys needed more nectar plants to sustain them.. spreading some native seeds would have helped a lot.

    • says

      The connections with other butterfly lover and native plant enthusiasts are exhilarating! Thanks Kathy. Wow, the Monarch grove sounds spectacular…. You wrote about this, didn’t you? I feel like I saw that in the news, the word “Monarch” usually gets a pause and open from me no matter what’s going on. I do hope the butterflies get what they need. Maybe one of us will have to get, “Miss Rumphius”-like in a subsequent visit to the grove… Where was it again? :)

    • says

      Well, as long as they’re organic microwave pork rinds, Ursala! Ha, thanks for making me feel welcome. I’ve enjoyed your posts too, can’t wait to read more about your punk rock garden style.

  3. says

    Jesse, Welcome to the family! I love the idea of giving out native plant seeds. I may try that in the spring when it will be easier for recipients to simply scatter the seeds right then and there…I know I’d put my seeds away some place for safekeeping and then forget about them (Yes, I’m speaking from experience!).

  4. says

    Jesse, I love the idea of seed gifts. I’m going to borrow it … with attribution, of course. :) I’m trapped in an urban existence for a few years, with just a balcony for my cultivation purposes. But, as I always believe in the “if you build it, they will come” philosophy, even our tiny space attracts hummingbirds and a few other bird species and, I hope, in the spring, some butterflies. I’ve just been slow at piecing together the necessary plant life to make this happen. Thank you for your thoughtful sentiments.
    ingrid@thefreequark recently posted..An American Crow in Seattle

    • says

      Thanks Ingrid! I always like Mulleins (Verbascum) for a balcony container here in upstate NY. Birds and butterflies visit, the plant does fine even with some neglect, and I get a pass for using a non-native. Also. The medicinal and shamanic value of Mullein is nothing to sneeze at….on more than one occasion it has healed my lower back pain.
      Thanks for being so welcoming!

  5. says

    Jesse welcome and it is great to see another NY blogger and wildlife gardener. I have few friends who are gardeners and a couple of neighbors who even consider wildlife so I had never considered seeds as gifts. But I love the idea and will look to see how I can use it perhaps as I grow my design business and use the seeds as a gift for clients. I look forward to other posts.
    Donna@Gardens Eye View recently posted..Gardens Eye Journal-December 2012

  6. Kevin J Railsback says

    I’ve spent the last year filming a tallgrass prairie near my home and one of the highlights certainly had to be the diversity of butterflies I found there.
    I’m spending the winter studying up on the different varieties of butterflies that can be found in my area and reaching out to local nature centers and conservation groups about where I can find certain species.
    I’ve visited a different monarch sanctuary in California. This one was in Pacific Grove. Could have spent all day there.

    I’ve just discovered this site but I intend to be a frequent visitor and look forward reading your posts.
    Kevin J Railsback recently posted..Liftoff: Filming A Dragonflies First Flight of the Day

  7. John Tinelli says

    Dear Jesse,
    Welcome to the flock! Sharing native seeds is a wonderful idea especially to promote these wonderful colorful and gentle creations we call butterflies. You are a welcomed voice to the world of ecology and preservation of God’s beautiful handiwork, the butterfly! I look forward to your articles and encouragement.
    John Tinelli, Fairport, NY

  8. jean sudnik says

    hello, i have been raising butterflies for a few years, this year i want to plant more native plants for their nectar, since what is offered in stores don’t have the nectar that a native one does, i am searching for sites that offer native seeds or plants. i see that you were giving seeds and would appriecate any that you may have to offer. i could give you my address in an email and pay for shipping. thanks so much for your advise and help to butterflies. thanks again jean sudnik


  1. […] Create more butterfly habitat through humility “I believe it is that way for everyone I meet. Increasing butterfly habitat by adding host plants is necessary for butterfly preservation. But communicating this sincere desire of mine and need of the butterflies to a friend who lacks information on ecological gardening requires a gentle method and humility.” by Jesse Elwert Peters […]

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