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Think Spring!
March 18, 2013

I'm adjusting nicely to the longer daylight on the evening side.

You too?

Spring arrives on Wednesday.

Are you ready?

The Calender may say it's spring, however Old Man Winter is getting in a few last digs.

A far cry from last year folks.

Yet this is more like normal weather.

At least we don't have 40 inches of snow on the ground like parts of Michigan's upper peninsula.

That's snow on the ground (snow pack) not actual snow fall.

More than 160 inches have fallen in parts of upper Michigan.

I'm not man enough to live up there.

Even in the cold and sometimes snowy days, you can hear and feel spring.

Birds are singing like crazy.

When there is sun, you can feel the warmth.

Go ahead, take a deep breath.

Breathe in Creation and our Creator.

Go Ahead....................

He wont mind.

Spring also brings March madness.

I'm not talking basketball and tournaments.

Though that is also true.

I'm talking gardening.

March and Spring almost forces us to get out and play.

All to often we want to get a jump on some of our tasks, and that isn't always a good thing.

We want to tidy up the yard and flower beds.

You may be jumping the gun a bit on some things.

Leaf litter left over the winter work wonders for many reasons.

It insulates the ground from cold and heat.

Decomposes and adds organic matter to your gardens.

Offers nesting materials for your birds.

And remember to stay off and no playing in wet dirt.

Red-winged blackbirds and robins are now in mass.

I have heard Killdeer on my evening walks.

I also hear a Woodcock making his mating sounds.

I saw my first Turkey vulture, this past week and a not so welcome birds, Grackles and Brown-headed cowbirds are back.

I don't see Red Squirrels around here that often (pictured).

This is the first one we've seen in a few years.

Typically we get Fox squirrels and a Gray squirrel or two.

What I haven't seen or heard yet is the Sandhill cranes.

Maybe I'm not outside enough, or possibly the cold has slowed them down a bit.

My records show them passing over this time for the past few years.

I planted my pepper seeds this past weekend.

Most seeds only require a 6-8 week period from planting to transplanting outside.

Especially if you don't have grow lights or greenhouses.

Karen and I took out 2 and 1/2 year old grand daughter to Frederick Meijer Gardens(pictured) this past Thursday to see the butterflies.

Every year from March through April the display several species of butterflies and moths from around the world.

Visitors can witness chrysalis hatching to having butterflies landing on them.

It is quite an adventure, especially for little ones.

When we visited, there were good numbers of butterflies.

The temperature and humidity is turned up in the Botanical Glass House.

Butterflies are selected that don't have any host plants growing within.

You are checked before you leave to make sure nothing escapes.

Birds live within the house so chemicals are out of the question.

Natural die off without host plants.

(Butterfly Chrysalis in the nursery.)

You have this week only, to get your Favorite Things about spring to me.

Send back to me your favorite thing about spring.

It could be a memory of time past.

Certain things you really look forward to.

A sight, sound or smell that tells you "This Is Spring".

I could use your help on this.

You don't want to read all about me do you:-)

Send this letter back to me with your

First Name (Last is optional).

Your general location, Near what city, State or Province.

Or you may simply say something like 'Southwest Michigan'.

Instead of Kentwood, Michigan (where I live).

Our visit to 'Butterflies are Blooming' made me pause once again.

Even if it is still cold right here. it is still time to think spring.

In many places, Butterflies are a sure sign of spring.

Like all insects, they hatch or come out of hibernation when the weather warms up.

Butterflies or flying flowers are welcomed into our gardens.

They are a sign of warm weather and promises to come.

We admire the way they flutter by and seem to take their time, without a care or worry.

I think most of us can go back to our childhood and recall more than one occasion of following a butterfly or maybe successfully catching one.

We watch them carefully and take pictures of them.


Butterflies are short lived and need host plants to continue the next generation.

Not just any plant will do, but a certain handful of plants or with some species, they rely totally on one species of plant.

For some butterflies, the same plant works as nectar for the adult and crunchy, chewy food for the caterpillar.

Karner's Blue Butterfly is a prime example of that.

Karner's Blue rely on Blue lupine for nectar and as a host plant.

As the lupine disappears, so does the butterfly.

So many times the Lupine is destroyed for development purposes and often while the plant is dormant.

"Out of sight out of mind", you might say.

Still again, the Pipevine swallowtail requires Dutchman's pipe vine to successfully reproduce.

Black swallowtail and Anise swallowtail love a good patch of parsley or dill (better yet, find native plants they would prefer).

My suggestion is to plant some for the butterflies and keep a few plants under netting for your own use.

Greater and Lesser fritillaries, some of the most common butterfly in the United States and Canada loves a nectar rich flower, but needs Violets and Violas to host.

Gulf fritillaries need passion vines as a host plant.

Giant Swallowtail require citrus trees , so if you see something munching on your orange or lemon tree, take a close look before you attack.

Some butterflies are easy as the name gives them away.

Spicebush swallowtail need Spicebush or Sassafras trees as hosts.

Still again, the Pipevine swallowtail requires Dutchman's pipe vine to successfully reproduce.

Black swallowtail and Anise swallowtail love a good patch of parsley or dill (better yet, find native plants they would prefer).

My suggestion is to plant some for the butterflies and keep a few plants under netting for your own use.

Monarchs, the most recognized butterfly of them all, will enjoy nectar from several plants including milkweed.

One particular plant called Butterfly weed, or now called Butterfly plant is in the milkweed family (Asclepias species).

A beautiful compact, non spreading plant that attracts monarchs like magnets attract steel.

And when they are ready, they deposit an egg here and there.

There are hundreds of species of butterflies throughout this planet, and all of them need a host(s) plant to continue the cycle.

What is nice, is many of these flowers and plants we offer for butterfly food and host plants for larvae, also offer cut flowers for us and seeds for your wild birds in the fall and winter.

Many butterflies rely on native grasses as host plants as well.

Do some research to find out what your butterflies need as hosts.

Go ahead, prepare and plant a butterfly garden, but remember to add some host plants as well.

By doing so, you are almost guaranteed a fresh batch of butterflies later that year or next spring.

Lay off the pesticides and don't squash that ugly looking thing you see chewing on your plant.

It just might be the ugly duckling that turns into the beautiful swan.

Butterfly eggs, larvae and the butterfly itself also feeds our birds (in most cases).

If you are privileged enough to find a chrysalis, maybe you can bring it inside at watch it unfold. Just remember to release it after the butterfly has dried off.

Butterflies may not have the movement and song that our birds bring us, but they sure remind us of a lazy day or bring us back to a childhood memory.

Besides, butterflies and caterpillars do offer food for many birds.

As you plan and prepare for your bird and butterfly garden, look for flowers that have flat heads like

Zinnia, Blanket flower, Aster, Coriopsis, Coneflower and Black-eyed susan.

All these flowers add beauty and add color for much of the season, offering food for butterflies and seed for birds.

Many butterfly plants also attract hummers.................. now who can go wrong there?

To really attract butterflies, you will need to know what butterflies are in your area and what host plant is required.

That is a few weeks away for me, but several of you I'm sure have butterflies already.

Besides, planning ahead is always a wise thing to do.

For a quick list on Common Butterflies and Their Host Plants click here.

Click for a list of nectaring and some host plants.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is you positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

The tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goals, the tragedy lies in not having any goals to reach. It isn't a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream.

Dr. Benjamin Mays

Desires and dreams.


Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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