Butterfly Weed: A Gift of Nature!

A monarch caterpillar crawls along butterfly weed blossoms


Spectacular! That word alone accurately describes the eye-catching beauty of Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), our only native milkweed with showy orange blossoms. But don’t let the words “butterfly” or “weed” fool you. Butterfly Weed is a non-discriminating, pollinator-friendly plant, a fact confirmed by its attractiveness to bumblebees and honey bees. Even Ruby-throated hummingbirds visit its nectar-rich blossoms. Just a weed? Certainly not!

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Garden of Healing and Renewal

A sign crafted of light colored, rectangular tiles reads: GARDEN OF HEALING AND RENEWAL. Pink petunias have been planted in front of the sign and tall grasses have been planted behind it.


“The Garden of Healing and Renewal is an oasis of beautiful paths, sitting areas, fountains and sculptures. It even has a labyrinth, an ancient meditation resource and symbol of spiritual healing, that incorporates a walking path to encourage both exercise and curative reflection.” McLaren Health Care.

A large sculpture of a monarch butterfly crafted from a mosaic of tiles sits in the midst of a garden. A bench stands in the background near a brick paver path. Black-eyed susans and other plants surround the sculpture.

The Garden of Healing and Renewal is not some faraway mystical place. It’s within earshot of the din of traffic on I-75 and just a few minutes drive from the busy I-75 Sashabaw Road exit in northern Oakland County. The garden and connected forested wetland of the site encompasses five acres and has a just under 1/3 of a mile of level looped trails, part of which are attractive pebble surfaced sidewalks. The McLaren Clarkston website states that it’s “Serious medicine to kick cancer. Serious healing for body and spirit.” But it’s more than that for those that explore this medically themed and rather tame corner of the Wilder Side of Oakland County. It’s a peaceful walking adventure for all ages. Continue reading

Monarch Migration and Milkweed: From Michigan to Mexico



The monarch butterfly‘s migration is perhaps the most magnificent migration of any species. Most monarchs that are now emerging from their chrysalises in Oakland County will attempt to fly all the way to the mountains of central Mexico. Monarchs know no borders, and Mexico is their overwintering destination. Some will be successful in that hazardous journey now underway, however many of these delicate beauties will die en route. To keep the journey alive in Oakland County, it is paramount that milkweed plants continue to grow here, because without them there would be no monarchs.

monarch-signEducation plays a big role. Enhancing monarch habitat by planting milkweed is akin to creating birthing rooms and feeding stations in one easy action. A colorful new interpretive sign created for Oakland County Parks shares the message of the great migration, the magic of metamorphosis and the need to plant and protect milkweed. Milkweed is only a weed to many humans, but for the monarch it is life, for it is the sole food source for the colorful larvae of the monarch. That’s where this tale begins, here in Oakland County where many park agencies and residents strive to create monarch way stations, landscapes that support milkweed.

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