All at once, the milkweed have bloomed. The air is redolent with their heady perfume.
My Hellstrip plantings seem to facilitate conversation about milkweed. I have had many great chats with the people who have stopped to both admire and ask questions about the growth.
In my mind, Milkweed is a vital part of the environment. I care about Monarch butterflies. I abhor the thought that they could be extinct within my lifetime. They need milkweed. Milkweed is the ONLY food that they can eat. However, in recent years, habitat loss coupled with chemical herbicide use have greatly reduced the prevalence of this absolute keystone of a plant.
But, beyond its vital necessity as a host plant to the Monarch butterfly, the Milkweed plant is a true beauty of a plant. The flowers are stunning. Big, bouyant balls of delight! They remind me of Mid Century chandeliers, pompoms, and lollipops. They explode with color like fireworks.
In a stand, Milkweed are tall and glorious. Their sweet perfume beckons pollinators. Although, I initially fostered their growth to aid the preservation of the Monarch, the plants attract myriad types of insects. In turn, this attracts the attention of beautiful birds who feast on some of the insecta. The Milkweed patch is a dynamic space whirring with life!
The milkweed seems to suffer from a bad reputation. Perhaps it’s the name, half of which explicitly includes the word weed. Homeowners don’t seem quick to include this “weed” in their yards. Some people seem surprised to hear that these majestic plants that they have stopped to see are the very same ones that they have pulled out of their more formal garden beds. It is safe to say that anyone who visits my garden will walk away with a newfound appreciation for this amazing plant. I often hand out Milkweed seeds to encourage the spread of this plant.