When I visited the First Lady’s Pollinator Garden at the White House, I realized that many of the plants installed in April 2014 were the same butterfly garden species I had written “nature meditations” for over the past decade. Twenty or so of the “nature meditations” are reprinted below for those interested in reading a different take on flowers – an approach that uses humor, puns, song lyrics and movie lines to drive home the fact: plants are fascinating!

Since our Make Way for Monarchs website is accessed nationally and internationally, and these species are primarily for eastern US, I’ve included a link at the bottom of each page to the http://plants.usda.gov website. This may simplify the search for range maps to show if the genera/species is found in your area of the US.

These nature meditation pages are not scholarly works although the work of many scholars was consulted and acknowledged in the “Monarchs and Milkweeds Almanac” workbook. They are intended to be entertaining, intriguing, even life-changing.

Over the years, I accessed every wildflower/field guide I could find at local, regional and university libraries. After repeated disappointments looking for field guides to the Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) both online and in book stores, I set about to write one myself. If there’s interest in the weeks ahead, I can share more of the Asclepias species pages here.

I call these pages ‘meditations’ since I often present them at churches and conferences as a way of acknowledging them as spiritual gifts from the Earth. Each is a separate, single-page PDF file. Permission is hereby given to print them for non-profit use (not for resale) for nature study groups, scouts, church nature outings, etc. When you see the musical note, that’s a clue to pause a sing a line of the familiar tunes :-)

A few notes:
Dr David Wagner’s “Caterpillars of Eastern North America” was invaluable in providing info for a few host plant notes in the page sections called “Caterpillar Cafes”.

The genus of many the species may have changed over the last decade; some, maybe several times. I’ve given up trying to track the latest changes. None of the pages include growing instructions since there are many volumes and websites that address this for each growing zone.

To say that plants are fascinating is an understatement. We owe our very lives and existence to plants and yet it is estimated that youth (and most adults) can recognize fewer than a dozen plants in the wild. The same study showed they could recognize many hundreds of corporate logos of food companies, sports teams, businesses, etc. This disinterest shows where our priorities are and it is disturbing to say the least.

Hopefully an approach with humor will serve to interest and engage more folks in planting native species as well as friendly introduced species to supply the lifegiving nectar needed by our imperiled pollinators.

If memory serves, this is the first collection of meditations to combine butterfly biology, gardening humor and puns. If memory serves, this is the first collection of meditations to combine butterfly biology, gardening humor and puns. :)

–Ina Warren