Cape May Monarchs 2016

Cape May, NJ – Nothing makes a gardener happier, as the flowers start to shrivel in October, than seeing a Monarch butterfly nectaring on a still blooming zinnia.

Unless of course it’s another Monarch. And another.

It’s been a rather slow year for Monarchs, truth be told.  No great clouds of butterflies covering the garden as in previous years. The Cape May Monarch Monitoring Project noted in its blog that strong easterly winds this fall may have blown the little butterflies farther inland, away from the shore.

But this week, a small surge of Monarchs moved into local gardens like ours. The winds had calmed down and the temperatures warmed up.

We were happy to oblige the hungry travelers. The Monarchs were all over the pink zinnias and the orange Mexican sunflowers. (The sunflower seeds came from the New York Botanical Garden’s Frida Kahlo exhibit last year. The artist loved to grow Mexican sunflowers.)

We had about a dozen butterflies in our garden Friday. They chowed down like they were getting ready for a big trip.

Today after the big rain and wind storm,  we checked the garden. The Monarchs were gone. Heading to Mexico we hoped.

For a moment,  the place seemed rather empty.

Then we made a note to self: remember to plant Zinnias and Mexican Sunflowers again next year.

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About Jane Kashlak

Jane Kashlak - a journalist, gardener and Cape Island resident - is writing a book.