This September, horticulturist Christine was amazed to find over 100 monarch butterflies roosting in a tree in her yard! Monarchs “roost” (gather to sleep) in groups overnight in sheltered spots on their long, yearly journey south to Mexico. While Christine is used to seeing a few monarchs in her large home garden, this year at least 20-50 of them dropped in daily in September and October.
Christine George is a garden care supervisor for us here at Sweetgum Horticulture. An excellent gardener and avid naturalist, she has been working on her quarter-acre home garden for 13 years (pictured below). Using native shrubs, trees, and perennials combined with spring flowering bulbs and annuals that flower in summer and fall, Christine has created a garden that blooms from mid-March to early November!
Christine cultivates her garden into a functioning ecosystem by using plants with flowers, berries, and seeds for food, native trees and shrubs for shelter, and low-impact pest management strategies – we use these techniques with our clients as well. Her hard work paid off this year, when dozens of monarchs fed on nectar from her flowers and roosted in her trees.
Christine said, “September 11th was when I first noticed an increase in monarch butterflies . . . they were gathering nectar from plants in my south border. What started off as 15 one day turned into 30, then 50, then up to more than 100. They roosted for a little over a week then moved on. After September 23rd I had anywhere from 20 to 50 showing up on a daily basis to visit my garden until l saw the last one on October 10th.” Christine is used to seeing monarch butterflies in her yard every year, but this was the first year she saw more than 15 at a time.
You might have noticed from these pictures that Christine is a master of color in her garden, and she puts this talent to work at Sweetgum Horticulture designing seasonal planters and picking annual plants for garden beds. Here are some gorgeous examples from her own garden where she uses both similar and contrasting colors to create beautiful combinations.
Once monarchs find a good roosting spot, they are likely to use it year after year on their long journey South. Christine plans to plant many of the same varieties next year, hoping to coax the mass of monarchs back into her garden.
- Liz P, Horticulturist at Sweetgum Horticulture