Check Out Wild Ones West Cook's NEW! Hyper-Local Butterfly Gardening Guide

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By Deb Quantock McCarey

Contributing reporter/Nature blogger

The time to plan your 2016 butterfly garden is now.

I am.

Especially last year, with my inclusion of more native plants in my edible gardens and landscape, I strategically upped the quotient of backyard bliss by adding in host and nectar plants to attract more butterflies, birds and beneficial insects. 

I planted Common Milkweed and Swamp Milkweed, the host plants for Monarchs, and they came in droves.

Tiger Swallowtail seemed to like sipping the nectar of my Bee Balm, Monarda fistulosa, but, as with the female Black Swallowtail, it hatched from an egg and grew as a caterpillar munching on a few herbs (host plants) I planted in a container garden.

Meanwhile, over the summer with my little eye I spied a pretty Painted Lady.

And, a flurry of Question Marks were also drawn here, likely by their love of the leaves of a nearby Elm tree.

To confirm my sightings, as is my practice, I circled back to confer with Wild Ones West Cook's (WOWC) Stephanie Walquist, a butterfly gardening enthusiast and educator who is a lead player in the development of the group's resolve to continue moving forward with its Living Landscape Project, the creation of a wildlife corridor they are pushing forward withpartners.

Their project was one of the six finalists in the Oak Park and River Forest Community Foundation's "What's the Big Idea?" pitch party last month.

Stephanie and her group have been digging in to a lot of community education initiatives recently, and one of the fruits of this volunteer-driven organization's labors is the recently completed online resource, The Ultimate and Local Guide to Butterfly Gardening in the Chicago Region.

With that info in hand, and with the WOWC's 2016 Native Plant Sale coming soon, being a butterfly gardener just got easier.



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