From Native Plants

It’s Monarch Butterfly Season

 on thistle
on thistle

I’ve noticed Monarch butterflies are visiting my gardens and have always found their story quite fascinating.
See why here.

As gardeners, there are many ways that we can not only encourage Monarchs to visit, but also ensure that we don’t contribute to the reduction of these beautiful insects.

Organic gardening methods greatly reduce the destruction of the habitat that Monarchs favor. Using environmentally friendly pest and weed removal methods goes a long way in preserving Monarch’s natural habitat. Also by encouraging native plant growth in our yards and gardens, such as Milkweed which is essential for sustaining Monarch butterflies.

If you’ve ever come upon a flock of Monarchs clustered in the leaves of a tree, it’s a wonderful sight to see them take flight and fill the air with their graceful beauty.

You can even adopt a – what a great gift idea, and it includes an adoption kit as well.

Going Green With Native Aquatic Plants

Aquatic Plants Added to Backyard Pond
Aquatic Plants Added to Backyard Pond

The backyard pond had a large amount of algae early in the season this year. Two weeks ago the neighbor’s lawn on the backside of the pond was sprayed for dandelions and within days the majority of the fish were floating on the surface of the water. It’s likely that the combination of weed killer and lawn fertilizer seeped into the pond during the recent rainfall. If you’re thinking about adding a water feature to your yard, you will want to take into consideration whether the location may be exposed to chemicals from neighboring yards, as fish are very sensitive to common lawn chemicals.

A trip to Osceola, WI took us by the native plant store Prairie Restorations, Inc – Two Oaks in Scandia, MN so we stopped in to see what they had to offer in the way of plants. To my delight, I discovered that they carry a wide variety of aquatic plants which would fit nicely along the edge of the backyard pond. A bonus would be the filtering of the water, which will aid in keeping the water clear throughout the hot summer months, and provide more cover for the goldfish.

Native Aquatic Plants
Native Aquatic Plants

We selected Compass Plant, Bottlebrush Sedge, Marsh Marigold, Water Plantain, Prairie Phlox, Blue Flag Iris, and Tussock Sedge to place at the edges of the pond (note that the Compass Plant and Prairie Phlox are not aquatic plants).

First the pond needed to be modified to create a bog area since the existing sides were too steep and rocky to properly house the aquatic plants.

Edges of pond were steep and rocky.
Edges of pond were steep and rocky.

I started by removing the rocks at the front edge of the pond. Then lifted the heavy rubber liner and dug out the dirt beneath it. I removed enough dirt to lower the edge of the pond about 4 inches, then replaced the rubber and flattened it out. I added the rocks back around the edge of the liner, then pumped out the water using the solar pond pump. During the process, I discovered that there were still a couple of fish that had survived the lawn chemical runoff and they had doubled in size in the past month.

Refilling the pond, after pumping out the tainted water.
Refilling the pond, after pumping out the tainted water.

After the water being pumped out began to run clear, clean water was added back into the newly designed water garden. River rock and pond pea rock was added to the front ledge of the pond to create a bog-like area for the aquatic plants. A trip to a local Bachman’s resulted in the purchase of barley straw, water hyacinth, and water lettuce (they have a nice variety of water plants).

A bag of barley straw was added to the newly cleaned pond as an organic method of reducing algae build-up. I also added the water lettuce and water hyacinth which both float on the surface of the water and will aid in filtering, as well as provide cover for the fish. There’s also a water lily and miniature cattails in pots submerged in the water.

Barley Straw
Barley Straw
Water Hyacinth
Water Hyacinth
Water Lettuce
Water Lettuce

The end result is a more natural looking pond. The aquatic plants will be potted in larger pots as they grow and can be divided and placed along the sides of the pond as they mature.

Aquatic plants will be repotted and arranged as they mature.
Aquatic plants will be repotted and arranged as they mature.