Yes, I scattered milkweed seeds

Yes, I scattered milkweed seeds

Yes, I admit it, I scattered milkweed seeds the other day.  Well, really, just a few. It’s not  illegal, not exactly. But it might be a questionable action in the Village.  Let’s just say, it could be trouble.

Diversity is the mantra here, but  there are watering restrictions. Also, compost piles should be raised and leaf-burning is discouraged.

Milkweed is another matter.  It is not always wanted in someone’s garden, but those with prairie gardens and butterfly gardens cultivate milkweed. This is not just an aesthetic choice, it’s an environmental concern. Natural habitats are vanishing. A plant that used to be so plentiful along country roadsides is less common, now, thanks to pesticides and Round-Up cornfields.

The common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is sometimes sold in garden centers as “pink butterfly plant.”  Maybe people are suspicious of anything with “weed” in the name, so the milkweed has gone upscale.  It does have pink flowers, but if you are looking for milkweed,  you may not know it’s the same plant.

Many people grow milkweed plants from seed, though. Our Habitat Garden  and, are  just two of  many websites devoted to the growing and  care of milkweed, and its place among the butterflies.

Monarch butterflies especially depend on the milkweed plant. The leaves are the only food of the monarch caterpillars.

My neighbor to the south has an impressive  butterfly/prairie garden on the parkway by her house. It’s official and certified: there’s a plaque and everything. She grows burdock and  Queen Anne’s Lace, echinacea and milkweed plants.

I just happened to be walking by one day when she was cutting  down the milkweeds. She said she wanted to do this before the pods ripened, and the seeds were scattered everywhere. This is the  responsible thing to do, I know. The Village has scolded  her about  spreading unwanted plants before. There was a problem  with Queen Anne’s Lace.

Anyway, she gave me some of those unripe milkweed pods a couple of weeks ago. I put them in a  paper bag and  waited for them to ripen. When I checked the other day, some of the pods had split open, and the bag was filled with fluff and seeds.

You can guess the rest.  It was such a gorgeous day, the sky was so clear and  blue. The leaves were falling, a rain of yellows. There was a brisk wind from the west. Wind is the best leaf blower, ever.

How can I describe the flight of the milkweed seeds? The fluff is lighter than a puff of air.  Milkweeds were made to be airborne, windblown, scattered in the blue sky among the colored leaves. Maybe to know, for a moment, the flight of orange butterflies.

I know, I know, it was an impulsive thing to do. I planted most of the seeds by the chickory and beebalm. I only scattered a few.

What if I called them butterfly seeds? Would I still get chided?


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