By Sister Regina Siegfried, ASC

Through the hot, dry, and then wet days of summer, I carefully tended what I thought were milkweed plants. One evening, a person from the neighborhood who has a registered milkweed garden gave me some advice about my efforts to begin a garden for monarch butterflies.

Although I have several bonafide milkweed plants, a few of my vigilantly watched plants are imposters, mere weeds in the garden. So I pulled them up, sorry that they didn’t classify as true milkweed.

Monarch watchers are anxious about those beauties not yet arriving in our area except for a few lonely “flutterbys.”

Where are the monarchs?

Will this be a year of monarch scarcity or monarch abundance? The latter is an oxymoron in an era where global warming and habitat decline threaten many species.

Several questions grew out of the evening conversation with my visiting garden expert. Among them:

  • How many other things in our lives do we nurture when they need to grow outside the tended garden of our spirits?
  • Do we exert too much effort and care on the ordinary weeds of life when the milkweed plants get overlooked?
  • What other plants will enhance the beauty of the garden and help the monarchs flourish on their arduous journey to Mexico?
  • What in our lives need uprooting so that real grace can thrive?

Sometimes we need someone who is a bit wiser, more informed, more experienced to lead us to understand what needs weeding and what needs tending.

Gardeners continue to plant milkweed even if the monarchs are sparse for a year. We care for their habitat with hope and anticipation of better days for butterflies, our spirits, and our planet Earth.