This article about the work of Minnesota master gardeners originally appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of Northern Gardener.
In September 2020, University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners in Crow Wing County spearheaded an effort to create a Monarch Waystation on the Central Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge campus in Brainerd, a facility for people battling addictions. Master gardeners Pauline Condon and Susan Lutz lead the project and teamed up with seven program participants who jumped at the chance to create a space that would benefit monarch butterflies. The group spent hours mulching and adding more than 65 donated plants, such as asters, milkweed and coneflowers, to a formerly unused space. Then they collaborated with campus faculty to establish a watering plan and make sure the garden would thrive.
The result? A 24-by-20-foot garden, full of foliage and busy pollinators. The garden serves as a rich food source and habitat for monarchs. Its informative signage makes it educational for visitors and it is a beautiful gathering place on campus. Valuable lessons came out of gardening together. The planting team learned why specific plants were chosen, based on things like bloom time and benefits to pollinators. As the garden grows this season, Lutz is completing the requirements to make it an official certified Monarch Waystation.
For more information, see the master gardeners’ website.