Local gardener keeps a specific insect in mind when she adds to her yard
They call her Queen of the Monarchs.
It all started four years ago when Nancy Sanderman’s sister-in-law gave her a start of milkweed. Nancy planted the colorful flower and learned that milkweed is a monarch butterfly essential. Before long she was addicted to planting her multilevel yard with host plants and nectar plants to feed and shelter the butterflies, from eggs to caterpillar to chrysalis to coming out. She includes shallow water basins so the butterflies can sip. There are special boxes for egg laying and chrysalis hanging.
“The caterpillars can eat an entire milkweed plant in one day,” says Sanderman, who lives in Kettering. “I planted milkweed near a window so they would attach their cocoon in a place where we could watch the process. They eat, they spin, go through metamorphosis and then out comes the butterfly.”
It turns out different plants attract various species of butterflies. Nancy tries to get native plants when Bergamo or the Wegerzyn Gardens have their sales.
“I add something new each year. False Indigo and Fennel are two favorites of Black Swallowtails,” she says
The plants also attract pollinators and birds. She completed her gardens with bird feeders, houses and baths.
Three years ago she started hosting a butterfly-themed brunch for her six grandchildren outside in the gardens.
“Our children and their children arrive around 9 a.m. on a Sunday in mid-August. The little ones love to dress up with butterfly wings. We have a lovely brunch with nectar punch, butterfly-shaped French toast, magnolia gardens biscuits and gravy, and breakfast casserole. The butterfly brunch has become a highlight of our summer.”
Nancy decorates with all kinds of butterfly accessories.
“I have fun shopping all year long. I make white chocolate butterfly lollipops using candy molds. Some I paint with edible paint,” she says.
Her recipe for nectar punch: apple juice, orange juice, cherry juice, lemon juice and a cup of sugar mixed together and frozen into containers. The frozen mixture is added to a punch bowl with two liters of Sprite. The drink is served as a slushy. For an adult version, add vodka or champagne.