The PURPOSE of the Romancing the Monarch Event is to invite residents to plant a Butterfly Garden, using a variety of HOST plants that butterflies need to lay their eggs, and caterpillars to eat and beautiful NECTAR plants that full grown butterflies need for food. A butterfly garden is a joyful mix of plants that attract butterflies and pollinators to your garden. And this time of year, we are encouraging families in Hood County to plant MILKWEED to ‘Romance” or encourage the mighty Monarch Butterfly to linger a bit in our gardens during their annual migration from Canada to Mexico.
Our purpose is to teach our neighbors how to roll out the Welcome Mat for Monarchs – by planting the only plant that mama Monarchs will lay their eggs, and Monarch caterpillars will eat – Milkweed. There are many types of Milkweed from natural, prairie Milkweed to Tropical Milkweed. And the most magical of all is to walk amongst a beautiful butterfly garden to enjoy the flowers and witness the glory of nature as the Monarch Butterflies come for a visit. Due to urbanization, most of the natural prairie milkweed has been replaced by neighborhoods, shopping centers, hospitals and highways. With an endangered number of Monarch Butterflies seeking their only food source, we can help them along their voyage by supplying their necessary food to sustain them on their journey.
The Lake Granbury Master Gardeners, working with MonarchWatch.org are part of the team who tracks the flight of the Monarch Butterfly by placing a tiny tag on the Monarch Butterfly, and entering that information into an international database to their numbers may be counted and awareness created to have their precious food source available all along their path.
As we continue to learn to plant a variety of Host and Nectar plants to attract many types of butterflies and pollinators, we will share in the joy of watching nature unfold, right in our own backyards, and community areas where all may enjoy the magic of the flight of the Monarch!
You are invited to visit our Demonstration Garden at any time, during any season to see what is growing and what will thrive in your garden in Hood County.
Master Gardeners Claim Honors
Lake Granbury Master Gardeners (LGMG) took two top honors at the 2022 Texas Master Gardener Association State Conference. The group’s “Romancing the Monarch” butterfly festival won first place for a project, in the Medium to Large County Membership category, in the Association’s Search for Excellence awards.
Romancing the Monarch is a free special event held each fall, which seeks to educate the public on attracting and protecting Monarch butterflies. The event includes both educational and entertaining components, such as lessons on butterfly gardening, butterfly releases and tagging butterflies. Hundreds of adults and children attend.
In selecting the project for recognition, one judge remarked, “The project has some of the best impact data of any I have evaluated.” Special credit for the project’s success goes to Master Gardener Deborah Rollins, who is largely responsible for organizing and promoting not only the event, but also the idea of making Hood County a waystation for Monarchs during their migration to and from Mexico each year.
Rollins spent countless hours talking to community groups, encouraging neighborhoods to plant butterfly host and nectar plants and teaching butterfly enthusiasts of all ages the importance of butterflies as pollinators.
In part for her work on Romancing the Monarch, Rollins received third place, outstanding individual, medium large county category. Since joining LGMG, she has been a model volunteer – hard-working, enthusiastic and skilled. In selecting Rollins for the award, judges wrote, “Deborah is an exceptional leader and role model. As an educator and researcher, her dedication and focus on monarchs and native plants has benefited her county and state Master Gardener association, city and county leaders as well as a wide public audience.”
Says Texas AgriLife Extension Agent London Fair, “Our Master Gardeners contributed more than 5,500 hours of volunteer service in 2021. We are proud to acknowledge their hard work and the education they provide.”
Winners of the Search for Excellence were announced May 10 during the state conference, which was attended virtually by Master Gardeners statewide. Associations from all 254 counties were eligible to submit award nominations in eight categories.