DescriptionI started gardening about thirty-five years ago when my boys were very young. I was a stay-at-home mom and we had bought a new tract home with no landscaping in the backyard. Gardening became a great way for me to spend time with my boys outside, and while they played I planted a few shrubs and flowers. The first year of planting I was hooked. We had a small yard so it was easy to see the results in a short time. We also had the worst soil so I educated myself on how to improve soil, and within a few years I had a created a small cottage garden on a very small budget.
We outgrew our home and when we shopped for a larger place to raise our sons, a large yard was a requirement. We were able to find the perfect older home on a greenbelt that included a big yard with mature trees next to a lake in Oklahoma City. The yard was in need of some help but it was perfect for our growing family, so I got to work making the garden my own. Twenty-five years later we have a mature landscape with many flowering shrubs, annuals, and perennials. I'm still adding to it and trying to minimize the lawn and plant more native shrubs and flowers. We have lots of wildlife that live here and visit each year. Hummingbirds, racoons, deer, fox, horned owls, rabbits, and many types of birds frequent our garden. Our garden is a place of enjoyment and we have friends who want to visit every year. My husband bought me a small greenhouse two years ago and I have really enjoyed having a place to overwinter my geraniums and herbs.
Several years ago I got really interested in monarch butterflies, especially since we are right along their migration path. We found hundreds of butterflies early one fall morning roosting in our pecan and oak trees. We were amazed to watch them fly off as the temperatures rose that morning. I started reading about monarch conservation and we have visited several monarch sanctuaries in California. Three years ago I had created a large enough garden and registered as a Monarch Waystation. My garden has several varieties of milkweed, including butterfly weed, tropical and hairy ball planted throughout. Each year monarchs lay their eggs and we enjoy watching their lifecycle. We have seen a big increase in bumblebees as well.
Two years ago we had an amazing migration here in Oklahoma City and Tulsa as thousands of monarchs passed through and we were able to capture them on video as well as in photgraphs. I participate and submit data to Journey North each year for monarchs and hummingbirds. I am also am a member of Okies for Monarchs and advocate for planting milkweed in everyone's gardens. Gardening is vital to me now and provides hours of exercise and enjoyment for me and my family. I named my butterfly garden after the blog I created: Miss Bloomers. I think everyone should enjoy a garden, even if it's a patio pot of flowers or herbs on a windowsill.
-Story contributed by Sonia K.