The weather is turning, fall is definitely here, but we are still basking in the afterglow of the Monarch Awards excitment. The Monarch Awards since 2016 is a way to celebrate gardeners who garden for nature. This year, the Monarch Awards extended a new category to include an award for small gardens and new gardeners: The Caterpillar Award.
I chatted with winner of the Caterpillar Award, Fran Frazier.
Fran has always been a gardener, but it is only in the last four years, that she has been gardening for nature.
It was through joining the Crown Point Garden Club and helping to plant pollinator gardens on the Pipeline Trail that Fran began to appreciate native plant gardens and what they do to support local biodiversity. Fran admits she was skeptical at first about such gardens, thinking that "weeds were for ditches."
"I thought, milkweed in a garden? Are you crazy? Why do a garden full of weeds? I had no idea that a pollinator garden could be beautiful." But she knew that the monarchs needed milkweed and she went with it."And then I saw how gorgeous everything looked!. There was a huge difference in the number of bees and butterflies in the pipeline gardens, then ordinary gardens. It was absolutely teaming."
Fran started learning more about the plight of pollinators. With her sister, who started the pollinator journey with her, supporting each other, Fran began attending tree walks, pollinator gardening workshops and forums. Now her sister, also a convert, is actually working on a complete butterfly garden. "My sister's neighbour came up to let her know he sees Monarchs all the time, and what's the big deal about declining numbers?" Fran laughs. "It's because of her garden attracting them!"
Fran displays the "We are feeding Pollinators" sign Monarch Awards entrants receive in the window. Neighbours have, observed that she has more bees in her yard.
What Fran loves about her garden
"From everywhere you sit you can see bees and butterflies and birds," Fran says. She has yellow finches hopping about on the coneflowers, water features such as a water fountain and bird baths. Now all she needs is a toad: "I would like to have a toad. Maybe if enough people plant they will come closer to the escarpment," she says hopefully.
Plans for her fall/winter garden?
"I'm planting a few more native plants such as zigzag goldenrod because I didn’t have enough native plants. This fall, she plans to leave her garden "mostly alone."