This summer I became the coordinator for the Northern Arizona Pollinator Habitat Initiative (NAZHPI). I’ve been giving out seed packets, educating people on the importance of bees & butterflies, and drafting some cool documents.

But I’ve also been seed-saving and planting my own garden. It includes (or will, when the seeds pop up next year) native wildflowers like the hoary tansyasters above, milkweeds for the monarch butterflies to eat, and beeplant.

So when a friend sent me a bunch of Tomicas on trade, I wanted to get some photos of the more utility-focused vehicles.

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Above is a Toyota J70 next to the first of my native milkweeds, Asclepias linaria. Milkweeds are the only plants that monarch caterpillars will eat, and a chemical inside the plant makes the ‘cats’ taste bad to predators. Habitat loss and herbicide use are central contributing factors to the 97% population decline of monarchs in the past 30 years.

Of course, it’s important to plant milkweeds native to your region. The above species, Asclepias speciosa, has been hosting at least one caterpillar in the NAU ‘SSLUG’ Garden. To find milkweeds right for your area and host these beautiful and nearly extinct butterflies, check out lists like this. More searches can further narrow down the appropriate plants for your garden.

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I’ve got A. linaria, speciosa, subverticillata and tuberosa. In time I’ll see which ones do best.

Of course milkweeds and beeplant aren’t the only things I’ve got. A few ponderosa pine seedlings have been transplanted into a better spot as well.

These should offer some more shade for the house once they grow up.

Last, I planted a strawberry cutting from the SSLUG garden yesterday. I can’t wait to have fresh berries and not have to rely on the tasteless supermarket garbage. The plant should grow up and make its own shoots, which can be further transplanted. Of course if there are no butterflies, bees or other pollinators, the plant won’t bear fruit. That’s why it’s extra important to provide food and shelter for your pollinating friends!

Please do plant some milkweeds at your place if you can! California especially needs help, as the monarchs are verging on extinction there.

If you’re in Northern AZ, go ahead and like the NAZPHI page!