Milkweed and Garden Gates in January

By now, many people know that monarch butterflies can’t survive without milkweed- a caterpillar’s only food. These milkweed pods have already burst to show their beautiful seeds. I’m crazy about this plant. In late fall, you can see fields full of them blowing wantonly in the sun. Of course, in my case, I enjoy milkweed for its unique style – seeds exploding out of their pods in late fall.

In the last 20 years, the monarch population has plummeted by over 90%. And why should we care? Because monarch butterflies are both pollinators and an important part of the food chain. The good news is that the monarch population has already improved from a few years ago.Milkweed

Milkweed wasn’t always just butterfly food. Although I’ve never stuffed Paola Pillows with it, the fluffy white floss attached to seeds was used by Native Americans for just that purpose. Paola Pillows are filled with clean, wonderful, natural down and feathers. The milky milkweed’s white sap was applied to remove warts, and the roots chewed to cure dysentery. Typhus fever and asthma were treated with infusions of the roots and leaves. If you’d like to grow this very important plant, you can read more about native milkweed varieties for your own yard. A wild and wonderful plant.

Milkweed

So many gates, so little time. The line drawing at bottom is my projection of the finished gate. You can see a single panel at top right. We think they’re vintage Victorian. The gate on beige at top left is a different one- we needed three panels to span the 11′ opening. The gate is quite lightweight which may explains the style similarity. They need the strength of the repeating vertical bars at bottom.

Garden Gates at Last! We’ve been diligently looking for a garden gate to close off the new formal garden. Larry found a sale on Craig’s List in Albany. We drove to Albany – about two hours away in search of some antique iron gates. We found MANY, in a very cool warehouse ( as in cold). The business is called Executive Antiques and is on the eve of closing its doors for retirement. Quite an amazing collection of iron in all colors and shapes. You can buy singles, pairs, or, as in our case, we found three gates that we’ll have joined to span the garden entrance. Later, I discovered that they’re all originally from England. Although I would have loved to know exactly where our gates are from, I’m happy we can give them a new home in Litchfield.

Speaking of England, I thought I’d share one of my old time favorite English musicians, Joe Cocker. A great all around rocker. He died in 2014 at the age of 70.  Everybody Hurts was released in 2004, on his nineteenth studio album. They say that January is especially hard for people who suffer from depression. Take a moment to reach out to someone you suspect might be having a tough time. You’ll feel better too!

Milkweed

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Comments

  1. Joseph Liekweg

    Milkweed has always been one of my favorites. The way the seeds spread and fly eas in the past the subject of many photographs of mine. I had no idea about its healing properties, i always wonder how our ancestors discovered thr healing properties of plants.
    Joe Cocker ! One of my all time favorites…but this song speaks to a side of him that’s different. Find someone who hurts…..what a grest idea.
    Metal gates…. I love metal as a marker of
    boundaries.

    • It’s funny about wrought iron. I remember when we first starting doing hardscape at the house- which property had never had any, it was important that it was stone and tile because it lended permanence
      that wood can’t. The old wrought iron is a whole other level. It ties into a common history. When you drive down the street and see iron fences,you feel like a part of shared history. Goofy huh?

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