Last December as we got the wheels spinning for our Monarch Butterfly campaign, we placed an order for milkweed with Monarch Watch — 2200 plants!

As you know, milkweed is the only plant the Monarch eats as a caterpillar. If you do not have milkweed, then you will not have Monarchs. Needless to say, I love milkweed :) !

So how did the plants that we ordered come to be? Last fall, volunteers from our area collected milkweed seeds and sent them to Monarch Watch for propagation and the opportunity to help get more milkweed plants planted across our region.

It’s exciting that the plants that we ordered are from our area because those seeds know our climate and soils and are best suited for being planted here in our Monarch Waystation gardens. It gives these plants a leg up.

The seeds were carefully cared for and planted in January and the growing began! Like expectant parents, many of us eagerly awaited updates and photos from Chip Taylor on the developing seedlings.

milkweed-from_chip_May_7_2013Then, on May 7th, I got an email from Chip, simply titled, “Here they come”.  He had been over to the nursery checking on the plants and snapped a few shots to share with us.

The seedlings had already been trimmed once to encourage growth and this was their robust regrowth – bright and green!

That’s when I sprung into action and reached out to all the teachers who had expressed interest in creating a Monarch Waystation garden at their schools. So far, 20 schools are jumping in to this – which is pretty exciting!

On May 15th, I received another email from Chip – this time with the subject, “great photos”.  Indeed, it was great! Our plants were all packed up and ready to come home!

With sweaty palms, I tracked their trip from Kansas and talked with Chip and the grower, Elliott, from Applied Ecological, almost every day. One challenge that popped up was that we needed a place with a forklift in order to receive the plants since they were packed on pallets and coming via semi-truck.

To cut to the chase, we ended up having them delivered to a plumbing supply company in Leesburg, VAMAC. Charles and James at VAMAC were so understanding and so helpful – we really thank them for their help!

On Monday, May 20th I received the call from VAMAC saying “Your plants arrived!”. My husband Gil hooked up his trailer and we went over to get the plants. Mona Miller then came over and we unloaded and unpacked them, and got them ready for teachers to come over and pick them up.

So today and tomorrow most of these plants  will be winging their way off to places across Loudoun – local seeds that went to Kansas, grew up big and strong, and came back home to put down roots and welcome Monarch Butterflies (and 457 other species) to enjoy their bounty.

After the requests from schools have been filled, we will be selling the remaining plants to anyone who is interested in planting them. No milkweed shall go unplanted! :)

If you are interested in buying some of these plants, you can email me at nhamilton@loudounwildlife.org. They must be picked up though – these guys have had enough shipping experiences :)

Thank you Chip Taylor and everyone at Monarch Watch for making these available and Elliott at Applied Ecological for  growing such gorgeous plants and being a part of the solution in Bringing Back the Monarch, Keeping the Magic Alive!

And thank you Dulles Greenway! The Drive for Charity funds are making this donation of plants to schools and the kickoff of this Monarch campaign possible!

More photos from this milkweed adventure can be seen here.

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