By Cathriona Fey
BAPA Community Outreach
Several gardens throughout Beverly/Morgan Park received a boost of butterfly friendliness after 192 milkweed plants were delivered to BAPA in May. BAPA applied for, and was awarded, a variety of milkweed plants on behalf of some of the area’s most notable community gardens through the Monarch Watch organization’s “Free Milkweeds for Schools and Nonprofits” grant.
Throughout May, volunteers, teachers, and students got their hands dirty giving these milkweed plants permanent homes at 91st Street Metra Station, Edna White Memorial Garden, Beverly Arts Center, Morgan Park Academy, and Kellogg, Vanderpoel, and Sutherland elementary schools.
All seven locations are showcase gardens in BAPA’s Save the Monarchs initiative. Each site will go through the Monarch Waystation certification process and be highlighted during BAPA’s 2021 Garden Walk event, July 11. Monarchs are known as the milkweed butterfly because milkweed is the only plant they eat.
Milkweed and other nectar plants are typically abundant throughout the prairie region. However, Illinois has experienced an extreme loss of prairie habitat, milkweed, and nectar resources due to intensifying land management, changes in land-use practices, pesticides and herbicides use, and climate change, leaving migrating monarchs limited options for breeding and sustenance. Over the last 20 years, the migratory and overwintering habitats needed to promote monarch breeding have been disappearing and the monarch butterfly has experienced a more than 80% decrease in population.
“The only thing we can do to save the whales is to send a check, but with the monarchs we can actually make a change beginning in our own backyards, and that feels good,” said Barbara Gyramathy, a volunteer with the Garden Club of Morgan Park/Beverly Hills which maintains the gardens at the Beverly Arts Center. Gyramathy and her fellow Garden Club volunteers gathered on a sunny Wednesday morning in May to plant a variety of milkweed plants that were awarded to the Beverly Arts Center through the Monarch Watch grant. The group planted common, whorled, butterfly, and swamp milkweed plants.
Interested in getting your garden certified as a monarch waystation? Join BAPA’s “21 in 2021” campaign to create 21 new monarch waystations in our community this year! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.