Wednesday, September 18, 2019

"In wildness is the preservation of the world"

Henry David Thoreau said that. We have a little bit of that wildness in the yard just off the kitchen. Years ago, we planted some iris, spiderwort (remember what Henry Mitchell says, "wirt" not wart), phlox, rosa rugosa, globe thistle, and mountain bluet there.

You walk out this door

and look to the left. Most of those plants are still there, but over the past few years some milkweed has crept in and of course we kept it, because one, it is beautiful; two, it smells wonderful when in flower; and three, and most importantly, it provides a "nursery" for monarch butterfly caterpillars. This year there have been many, many caterpillars and butterflies, not only monarchs but lots of others, two. My sister-in-law said that milkweed provides for many kinds of caterpillars.

Each day, I've gone out to look and today there are no more. We are supposed to have our first frost tonight so they must be thinking their warm weather here has ended.

This is what we call our "wild garden". We've let the milkweed grow a few feet further into the lawn. Wild asters and goldenrod have begun growing there, too.

and down behind is a ton of comfrey which has been full of bees. The field beyond is where the animals used to graze when we had more of them. Now with just one donkey, 6 sheep (with two more coming soon), and the chickens, we don't need two pastures so they just graze the one near the barn. Tom mows it in the fall, and it grows up again in the summer, welcoming the birds and the bees and the butterflies.

Here is a closeup of the milkweed pods.

I actually saw the caterpillars chomping away on these leaves.

A while ago there was a lot of concern about the lack of milkweed, but at Windy Poplars Farm, and down on our neighbors' land, there is plenty of it to make all the little creatures happy and thriving. I think people have learned that it is a plant well worth keeping in one's garden.


  1. All my garden is wild except what is mowed lawn! Oh, how I loved Henry Mitchell and all his wonderful works! I must look for those books. And Eleanor Perenyi's Green Thoughts which I am sure you know.

    1. I have heard of the EP, but haven't read it. Henry is so much fun. I bet your garden is so beautiful.

  2. Replies
    1. We are very lucky. We found this place when prices were oh, so low.

  3. Yikes, the first frost. Winter really is on its way.

  4. Your wild garden is beautiful! If everyone had just this little space of heaven in their garden the world would be better for it.

  5. I love the wild garden. Are those rose hips in your header?

  6. We had a lot of milkweed in Nebraska, but I haven't seen any around our neighborhood in Oregon. I remember reading about its importance to Monarch butterflies when I read Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. Glad you are attracting all those wonderful creatures! Beautiful new header, too!

  7. I love your wild garden. It's just incredible what we can do for the little critters. I'm making a little pond in Shropshire and a very tiny pond in my house in London. It all helps. I remember milkweed from my Vermont days but I don't see it in the UK for some reason. Hope you're having a beautiful Fall, Nan


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