When all the garden is brown and greyed, it’s hard to see life. But life there is. Emerging. Waiting for a little breeze to carry seeds from brittle shells.
We don’t normally think to sow seeds in winter, but nature does.
Nuts, cones, seed pods. Winter weather provides a natural cold stratification process that allows the seeds to go dormant while nature spreads them around. Once the weather gradually warms, if they’ve found a favorable spot, they will sprout.
With the leaves off the trees and bushes, the little shells with their natural silken parachutes take to the air to find a new home. This cold spell is vital to milkweed seeds and other native plants.
I can’t help but think of my own heart bracing for the cold months ahead.
It’s easy to think of this as a time to hunker down and retreat, but it’s also a time to prepare for the next growing season. With winter officially upon us, let's take stock of our lives cracked open and dispersed:
First, I have to be open. Sometimes when life feels like its prying us apart, it’s not to hurt us but to open our shell to new possibilities. Will I resent this process? Will I use all my energy to keep things the way they were, or will I yield?
Next, I have to look out and not back. Sure, the breeze blows wherever it wants and I simply can’t predict the unknown, but I can keep myself open and alert to where God is sending me. Staying in place may feel safe but if I want to see new possibilities, I have to be willing to move with the change.
An interesting thing about milkweed (winter pod shown in the picture) is that it is the staple plant for monarch butterflies to lay their eggs on. By planting milkweed seeds (at least six plants) you can help the monarchs recover from a devastating population loss suffered over the past decade.
Said a different way; without our help this species may disappear.
It’s easy to think that my little life is average and not important; but the lives we touch with our love and kindness depend on it. Be it a butterfly, a friend, a neighbor, child or mother-in-law, the time you and I spend caring for that life matters. Staying in place may feel safe, but who and what might suffer as a result?
The cold winds of winter have a way of cracking open our shells. Turning the page to a New Year ushers in lots of blank pages we will eventually fill. Your choices today will be your history tomorrow.
So what will you disperse this winter?
Native milkweed (mature plants are approximately 4') is the cornerstone of a successful butterfly garden, so begin with those species if you are just getting started. Once you have natives established, consider other non-invasive varieties to attract even more butterflies.
According to the Monarch Watch website: “Each fall, hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies migrate from the United States and Canada to overwintering areas in Mexico and California where they wait out the winter until conditions favor a return flight in the spring. The monarch migration is truly one of the world's greatest natural wonders, yet it is threatened by habitat loss in North America - at the overwintering sites and throughout the spring and summer breeding range as well.
Monarch Waystation Habitats can help the loss of habitat for monarchs. Monarch Waystations are gardens that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. Without milkweeds throughout their spring and summer breeding areas in North America, monarchs would not be able to produce the successive generations that culminate in the migration each fall. Similarly, without nectar from flowers these fall migratory monarch butterflies would be unable to make their long journey to overwintering grounds."
If you are interested in getting more info on starting a butterfly garden go to:
If you want native Virginia milkweed seeds, shoot me an email and I'll get some to you. Let's put our love on those little silken parachutes and help restore the habitat for these beautiful creatures.