May 25, 2013 at 12:29 pm (Sanctuary)
Tags: Birds, Butterflies, Native Plants, native seed, Pollinators, Ryan Conner, seed saving, Wild Butterfly Habitat, Wild edibles, wildflowers
Our Lady of the Woods
Ryan Conner, Happy Tonics Volunteer in Hayward, WI has a native habitat in his front yard. A few years ago, he decided to stop mowing. Bravo!
A visit to tranquility
This past winter Ryan sent me some seed that he gathered from his own property. I am implementing a Wild Butterfly Habitat, on Ashby West Road, Fitchburg, MA. It is on family land and private.
RYAN’S NATIVE SEED:
Asclepias syriaca common milkweed
Desmodium canadense Showy tick-trefoil
Echinacea pallida Pale purple coneflower
Ratibida pinnata Gray-headed coneflower
Rudbeckia laciniata Green-headed coneflower
Solidago speciosa Showy goldenrod
I also bought seed packages for the following plants that were also scattered.
Nepeta cataria Catmint
Aguilegia canadensis Columbine
Artemisia caudatus Love lies bleeding
Artemisia tricolor Joseph’s coat
Monarca media Monarda
Ecinacea purpurea Purple conflower
Helanthus spp. Sunflower
Ryan Conner proudly stands next to his Conservation Star Home Award sign.
I won’t look for instantaneous results. I have found that native seed sprouts when conditions are compatible to its growing needs. Sometimes seed can lay dormant for years before it emerges. We will see as time develops what takes.
In the meantime, I have put up a driftwood recycled birdhouse. This week another fanciful bird house for my sister’s grandchildren, a small shrine for for La Senora de Guadalupe and a wildflower wood-chime will be placed at the habitat.
Beauty is ethereal
My sister Ronnie already thoughtfully brought a chair up to the habitat for me. It is set in the cool of the pine grove. She also planted ground cover succulents in an old wooden log that had the center eaten out by some critter. Each touch we add will offer refuge to me. There is a reason for this. My life is centered on living a purpose driven life. It is busy with speaking tours, leading restoration gardens, implementing pollinator habitats, teaching environmental classes and writing my third book. I simply need a place of refuge where I can unwind and listen to the wind. Here I do ceremony for water and communicate with the Creator’s natural world, which renews me. I love it so.
February 24, 2013 at 10:11 pm (Blog/Radio Talkupy, Butterflies, Pollinators)
Tags: Blog, Fitchburg MA, Happy Tonics, monarch butterflies, Pollinator collidors, Pollinators, Radio, Shell Lake, Solitary bee nesting, Talkupy, WI, Wildl Butterfly Habitat
Monarch butterflies are being hit on all sides these days. Loss of habitat, climate change andnatural disasters are taking their toll on these and other beautiful pollinators. Thankfully, there are people watching out for them. Talkupy with Annie Lindstrom welcomes Mary Ellen Ryall, retiring Executive Director of Happy Tonics Inc., to the show on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. Mary Ellen is passionate about helping people learn how to create pollinator corridors in their own backyards. She will discuss the work she did at Happy Tonics’ teaching garden in Shell Lake, WI and her books on Monarchs. She also will talk about the wild butterflyand solitary bee nesting habitat she is creating in Fitchburg, MA. For more information, visit Mary Ellen’s Facebook page. For an expanded slide show go to Talkupy.net
August 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm (Fitchburg MA, Flowers, Monarca chrysalis, Monarch butterfly, San Francisco CA)
Tags: Fitchburg MA, Flowers, monarch birth, Monarch butterfly, Monarch caterpillar, Monarch chrysalis, Morning glory, Pollinators, San Francisco CA
Monarch chrysalis extended near tomato plant. Looks to be same color as fruit.
Before I begin this post, I thought you would want to know that the monarch butterfly caterpillar has changed into the next stage of its life. It is now a lime green chrysalis. I think it must of happened yesterday afternoon after the sun finally came out. The morning was rainy.
Monarch caterpillar classic J shape
I photographed a few shots of the caterpillar that just hung upside down for a day. It was cloudy out and a little cooler. I wondered if the caterpillar needed sun to give it energy in order to change into a chrysalis. Then the downpour came and I hoped the caterpillar would be safe. Rain drops can dislodge an adult monarch and cause it harm or death. I was concerned about the caterpillar. Would it be safe from the elements? After all it was hiding among tomato leaves and perhaps had enough cover not to experience the brunt of heavy rain pellets.
This morning was cool, a touch of fall crisp air. Dressed in a hoodie, I went outside to begin thanksgiving morning rituals. Old growth oak trees at the end of the driveway were whispering yes, fall is coming. They communicate a unique sound when the leaves move. It is different than summer serenades. The leaves resonate this truth. As I stood on the back stoop for a few minutes, I heard hummingbird wings behind me. It wasn’t long before a female flew in front of me; I had a close encounter as I stood perfectly still. Evidently she decided I wasn’t a flower, even if the hoodie was pink. The hummer headed toward a moist colony of black-eyed-Susan and bright pink phlox. I think of my elder friend Phyllis DeBrot when I see hummingbirds. She loves hummingbirds and always sends me cards that have either hummingbirds or butterflies on cover.
I decided to walk out on the country road. It is very hilly; I figured it would improve my endurance if I start hill climbing. Yesterday I learned from Jack (brother-in-law) that Fitchburg is the second hilliest city in the country. San Francisco is number one. We’re out in the country and what a hill it is for cars to get up my sister’s hill. Believe me, I am buying a four wheel drive vehicle when I return here to live starting in the fall. I have my eye on a used Suburu. There is a Suburu car dealer in Fitchburg. My brother-in-law swears by his. I heard that two other friends love their vehicles too. The back roads here are narrow and I need a vehicle that I can trust.
Pink morning glory
My nephew’s morning glories are growing profusely at my sister’s. They appear to be illuminated from within. I imagine pollinators see the inner glow. Who is not attracted to radiating light when it beckons? Hope you enjoy the photos this morning. It is taking me awhile to learn my brother-in-law’s computer system and applications such as photos.
Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you are.
February 10, 2012 at 9:46 pm (Butterflies, Insects, Photographers, Plants, Pollinators, Seeds)
Tags: Alexandria, Arizona, Butterflies, California, Cindy Dyer, Environment, Field Guide - Monarch Butterfly Habitat, Florida, Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio, garden photography tips, Green Spring Gardens, Happy Tonics, Horticulture Center, Large scale restoration project, milkweed seed, Minong Wisconsin, Monarch Butterfly Habitat, Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, Monarch Joint Venture, Nevada, New Mexico, Pollinators, Shell Lake, Texas, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant, Virginia., Wisconsin, Xerces Society
Published in Washburn County Register, February 8, 2012
News from Xerces Society, “In 2010, with support from the Monarch Joint Venture and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant, Xerces Society initiated a multi-state project to increase the availability of milkweed seed for large-scale restoration efforts in California, Nevada, Arizona, New México, Texas and Florida. Xerces is working with native seed producers and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Plant Material Program to increase the production of local ecotype native milkweed seed.” The reason for the collaborative milkweed seed project is because pollinators, including the monarch butterfly, are besieged with a threatened migration phenomenon.
Prior to Xerces Society milkweed initiative, Happy Tonics has been selling common milkweed seed since 1999. Milkweed is the only host plant of the monarch butterfly. The seed is offered in the Visitors Center/Store in downtown Shell Lake. The store reopens on Memorial Day Weekend. Out of season, milkweed seed is sold online through eBay. Several seed buyers from around the country are now donors of Happy Tonics nonprofit public charity. Some buyers have gone on to build butterfly gardens at schools and monarch butterfly habitats on their own property. It is good to know that monarch butterfly conservation is an ongoing environmental education act that brings positive results to help the monarch butterfly.
Cindy Dyer, VP Marketing, Happy Tonics, will have a one woman art show at the Horticulture Center, Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria, Virginia. The exhibit, “Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio,” will run February 28 – April 29, 2012. If you wish to take a sneak preview of Cindy’s extraordinary floral and insect photography visit http://www.gardenmuseshow.com Her garden photography was also honored by Nikon camera in 2011. Here is a link to their Web page featuring Cindy’s garden photography tips at http://www.nikonusa.com/Learn-And-Explore/Photography-Techniques/gr35ffdt/all/How-To-Grow-Your-Garden-Photography-Skills.html
In summer 2011, Cindy photographed butterflies and native plants while visiting the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. We are working on a Field Guide – Monarch Butterfly Habitat. The publication will highlight the symbiotic relationship between native plants and pollinators including the monarch butterfly, birds and small animals.
August 1, 2011 at 1:03 pm (Ambassador, Artesian well, Climate change, Common Milkweed, Environment, Grandmother Tonya Whitedeeer, Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer, Happy Tonics, Hospitality House, Mary Ellen Ryall, My Name is Butterfly, Native Habitat, Natural News, Nibi Wabo, Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites, Water Blessings, Water Ceremony, Water conservation, Water Meditation, Water Organization, Water Spirits)
Tags: Cape Town, Climate change, drought, Earth's Great Cleansing, Environment, Fear, Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer, Happy Tonics, Hospitality House, Medicine bag, Minong Wisconsin, Mother Earth, Nibi Wabo, Northwest Wisconsin, Pollinators, Rainbow, Roy Eckberg, Sandy Stein, Shelley Ruth Wyndham, Sisterhood of Planetary Water Rites, South Africa, Violent storms, Water Ceremony, Water sisters, Water teachers, Water Walkers, Weather, Wisconsin, Worth Cooley-Prost
Saturday, July 30- There were thunderstorms surrounding the valley in late afternoon. Water sisters arrived at the Hospitality House in Minong. We began by dressing up in skirts. Sandy Stein mentioned that when women wear a shawl and skirt it represents mountains and being close to Mother Earth. A skirt worn in ceremony is respectful and helps women remember that we are feminine energy and connected to Mother Earth. We put our sacred items together to carry them out to the sand dunes. I had on my glass water pendent that Worth Cooley-Prost had made for me. Sandy wore her medicine bag. It is good for women to have their very own medicine bag. We have several small beaded butterfly medicine bags made by an elder Marilyn Vig, Rice Lake, WI. I will exhibit and offer them for sale in September at our online store at http://stores.ebay.com/happytonics
Rainbow after storm
While still at the house we witnessed a rainbow. This was a beautiful sign.
Then it started to lightly rain again as we walked to the sand dunes. Sandy Stein said, “Rain is good.” I responded, “After all we are praying for the water.” We felt blessed as we entered Sacred Space and the rain began to lighten up and then stop.
Sandy, Deborah and Godavari met the sweet fern for the first time that is now growing over the dune and into the site. I love this fern, years ago I put my intentions on the fern and wished that the fern would climb the dunes from the other side. Each of them smelled the plant and were joyous when they smelled the sweet fragrance having never smelled anything like it before. I reminded water sisters that we needed to be silent as we entered Sacred Space.
We put our individual sacred items on the blanket alter in the sand. Before we began the Nibi Wabo (Water Song) each of us added our pure water to the water bowl to marry the waters. We tried to smudge but couldn’t get a match to light the sacred sage; it was too damp. We each took a pinch of tobacco in our left hand. In turn each spoke their intentions of remembrance before beginning ceremony and added a pinch of tobacco to the basswood Two Headed Bear Dream Bowl handmade by Frank Galli. The bowl was made especially for Water Ceremony offerings. Then I gave a short talk on the observations of water to the sisters.
Message: Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer is one of the Ambassadors of the White Buffalo Family in Oregon. She is with them now and doing ceremony as we stand in circle. Worth Cooley-Prost is traveling from Arlington, VA to the Carolinas. Worth is standing with us in ceremony at the same hour where ever she is. I remembered Shelley Ruth Wyndham, Cape Town, South Africa, who asked that she be remembered each time we stand in Water Ceremony. She is with us in ceremony. Mother Earth is going through a Great Cleansing and weather is and will become more violent. We are to stand firmly grounded to the earth and hold any fear in our feet which is solidly planted in communication with Mother Earth. We are not to let fear rise up through our bodies. We are not to be afraid when great and turbulent changes occur around us. We are to know that Mother Earth is protecting us. We are the Water Walkers, water sisters and water teachers.As women we are called to protect water. We are not alone. We are here to grow in healing energy work as we band together all over the world. Each of us in our own environment is here to teach others not to be afraid and to help people cross over the rainbow road after a storm. We are here at this moment to personally adapt to Climate Change and its consequences. We need to learn what our agricultural plant growing zone is and may be in the predicted future. We need to plant appropriately while we look towards the future. Current plant zoning is changing. In Northwest Wisconsin instead of planting the same species of downed trees ( Birch, Red Pine and Jack Pine) of the last storm in Minong on July 1, we need to look at a zone or two further south and plant accordingly. We need to personally adapt and teach others to adapt. There is no sense in old programming of being alarmed when our immediate world is changing and negatively lamenting the changes. If we survive I believe this is sufficient enough to be grateful. The solution: Think positive because we are still here doing our work. Adapt! This is the message.
Then we sang to the four direction, using our birch bark clapping sticks. The clouds were getting black and thunder clouds came closer. After concluding the Water Song we ended ceremony sooner, packed up our ceremonial objects and headed back to the Hospitality House. Before we left the sand dunes, Sandy put down the sacred items she brought to the ceremony. These were a shell and rock. I left a tear drop shell in a special place also which was significant because we were blessed by rain during ceremony.
- Parched sand dunes from drought.
One of the observations I have noticed since I started working on water issues and Water Ceremony, with the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites, is that I am forever thirsty. Northwest Wisconsin experienced a seven-year drought . I am conscious of having a dry mouth and wanting to drink water.
NOTE: Parts of this state’s North Woods and the adjacent Upper Peninsula of Michigan are the only areas in the continental USA experiencing “extreme” drought. It’s the region’s most severe drought since the 1930s and its longest dry period since the 1950s, says Roy Eckberg, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Green Bay, Wis. Learn more at http://www.usatoday.com/weather/drought/2010-06-24-drought_N.htm
- Artesian well with spout and cup
I am grateful for all the rain in 2011 even though we have had to deal with strange, unpredictable and more frequent violent storms. Even the clouds have changed to forms I have never seen before. Now I keep a weather radio on.
I am secure in knowing that there is pure water at the artesian well in the woods where sweet water flows to the surface from deep within Mother Earth. What a happy woodlands it is that surrounds the artesian well. Even though the trip is long and I need to drive 60 miles round trip from Minong to Shell Lake and back, I am happiest when I am drinking this precious pure water.
After the Water Ceremony Godavari wrote, “Thanks so much, so very much, for having us at your place, especially right after the trauma of the storms, when it must have been hard for you to get ready. I like that it rained on our ceremony. In Siddha Yoga rain is auspicious (highly beneficial, a good omen) because it is a blessing upon the earth and its people. As you said, it is life itself. After our ceremony, I began drinking water with much gratitude, knowing we are blessed to have clean water on this part of the earth. And inside, I feel a purification beginning, which the water ceremony seemed to launch. Purifying me of anger and resentment, making space for greater love. So in a personal way too, I am grateful to you for leading us in honoring water, in honoring Mother Earth.
Note: Godavari means goddess of a holy river, and there is a River Godavari, as they call it there, near the Siddha Yoga ashram in India.
Worth Cooley-Prost says, “My part of Water Ceremony was brief and on the move, but held my Heart and I hope added something Good to the whole. My old (85 now!) friend Dot, who co-founded the Light Group in Kinston NC in the early 1970s, brought me a little container of water from there. (It used to be artesian well water, now it’s a mix of that and water from the Neuse River… anyway, Water from close-to-me Ancestors’ home since 1841 or so.) And our car smelled so wonderful with sage lit!
Tonya Whitedeer Cargill
is a Clan Mother of the Bear Clan of Medicine Creek Metis in Laytonville, CA. She holds women’s circles and Grandmother Net of Light Ceremonies. She is one of the Ambassadors’ for the Sacred White Buffalo Family in Northern Oregon. She is currently working on a novel that is coming to her through Spirit. Tonya works with endangered species Medicines of the Green Nation and maintains a Medicine Walk open to the public to educate all those that come to her land named through Spirit as Medicine Creek. Visit the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites at http://waterblessings.org/
Mary Ellen Ryall is a Council Guide of the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites and Executive Director of Happy Tonics, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) environmental education organization and public charity. Ryall is the author of My Name is Butterfly published in 2011 by Salt of the Earth Press. The book will be available on Amazon shortly.
The fully illustrated children’s book gives testimony of why native plants are important for pollinators. The charming book teaches about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly and its only host plant milkweed. Over the last eight years Ryall has planted milkweed at the sand dunes. Monarch butterflies flitted about the day of the Water Ceremony. This is another good sign that the monarch butterfly abounds in Minong in and near the sand dunes.
March 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm (Monarch Butterfly Chatbook - Sunflower and Native bees)
Tags: bats, Butterflies, California, Crops, farm crops, Flowers, Fruit, garden, Herbicides, Insecticides, Kranklin's bumblebee, Larva, lawns, moths, Native Bees, Native Squash, Native Sunflower, Pollinators, Potatoes, Pumpkins, roadways, Species, Tomatoes, Xerces Society
SUNFLOWER AND NATIVE BEES
Bees are the number one pollinator and butterflies are the second most important pollinator in the world.
Pollinators are necessary to pollinate flowers, crops and fruits and include native bees, butterflies, moths and bats. It is harmful to use herbicides and insecticides on lawns, farm crops, along roadways and in the garden. Insecticides kill larva and adult insects including bees and butterflies. Herbicides kill weeds often eliminating biodiversity of native plants that pollinators need to survive.
Without pollinators, many of the world’s crop species would disappear. This could include foods such as native squash, potatoes, tomatoes and pumpkins. Only the native bumblebee pollinates potatoes and the bumblebee is being used commercially to pollinate tomatoes.
According to The Xerces Society, Franklin’s bumblebee is already threatened in California. There are hundreds of native bee species in the United States. Bees need a place to live and they need healthy pollen sources. Won’t you make your garden pollinator friendly? In return, native bees and butterflies will delight you by visiting your garden.
December 11, 2010 at 1:24 am (Butterflies, GoPetition, Happy Tonics, Insect Control, Insecticides, Insects, Mexican Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, Mexico, Milkweed, Monarch butterfly, Native Crops, Native Habitat, Pesticides, Pollinators, Sign petition, USA)
Tags: biodiversity, Canada, Environment, GoPetition, Happy Tonics, Insect Control, Insecticides, Mexico, Pesticides, Pollinators, Sign Petition, USA
Published by Mary Ellen Ryall on Dec 10, 2010
Region: United States of America
Target: United States of America, Canada and Mexico
I thought this pupa was a jewel when I first saw it in the garden
The only host plant of the monarch butterfly (milkweed) is often a noxious weed in Canada. In the USA there is a loss of biodiverse agriculture and agricultural lands to urban sprawl and use of pesticides and herbicides.
In Mexico there is illegal logging of Oyamel fir trees within the Monarch Butterfly Habitat. In 2010 according to Monarch Watch over 50 percent of the monarchs died due to mudslides, freezing rains and floods within and around the sanctuaries.
We the undersigned promise not to use pesticides or herbicides in gardening. We agree not to plant monoculture crops.
We promise to plant a variety of native crops and plants for pollinators and insect control. We promise to plant milkweed for the monarch butterfly to establish the next generation of butterflies.
September 16, 2010 at 12:01 pm (Letter to the Editor, Mary Ellen Ryall, Monarch Butterfly Habitat, Native Bees, Native grasses, Native Habitat, Native Plant Species, Native Restored Remnant Tallgrass Prairie, Native Seed Saving, Native Tall Grasses, Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden)
Tags: Argumentative Writing, Civic Responsibility Writing, Environment, Happy Tonics, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College, Mary Ellen Ryall, Monarch butterfly, Monarch Butterfly Habitat, Native grasses, Native Wildflowers, Pollinators, Shell Lake
The Editorial article by Lauralei Anderson in the paper September 8, 2010 was submitted to Happy Tonics, Inc. officers and board in OH, MA, VA and WI. We agreed to the following response to Lauralei Anderson’s Editorial.
Letter to the editor, Washburn County Register
In regards to the letter sent by Lauralei Anderson from Cumberland, we at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat would like to respond to her criticism calling the habitat “an overgrown railroad bed.”
A native habitat is completely different from a typical garden, park or planting. There are no tulips and marigolds in nice neat rows because all the plants in the habitat are native to Wisconsin. This is a prime example of a restored tall grass prairie whose plants are the same ones that covered Wisconsin when the Conestoga wagons passed through carrying the pioneers west.
It was the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that not only helped pick out the native seeds, but donated over $500 worth of seeds to the habitat and the Land and Water Conservation Department had a huge hand in the project also.
Native plantings always start out with common plants like the little and big blue stems which you call weeds. If the garden is healthy, the first native flowers begin to appear the third year. You mentioned in your letter that you saw some ‘scant black-eyed Susan’s, they are right on time. Within the next 5 years, more native flower species, the seeds of which were planted by professionals, will appear. Some native plants take years for their seeds to germinate and grow into plants.
Even though the habitat idea is new to many here in Shell Lake and the surrounding residents, it’s familiar to those who are familiar with Saulk County’s favorite son, Also Leopold and sites like Brighter Planet. The habitat has received grants from both organizations as well as numerous others that believe that if we don’t save the native plants for the two most important pollinators, the bees and butterflies, commercial crops and public and personal gardens will fail due to a lack of pollination. We will be starting to be official Wisconsin native seed savers this year, sending them throughout the United States.
Shell Lake is also on the direct floral corroder that runs from Canada to Mexico that offers food and rest to the millions of butterflies heading to their winter home in Mexico and yes, the butterflies often follow the highways, another reason for this perfect habitat site.
It’s often easy to criticize what we don’t understand, and this habitat was never meant to look like a ‘cute little garden,’ it’s a teaching tool that has already tied into Eco Tourism and we have given many tours this summer to a local audience as well as visitors from across our nation. The Monarch Habitat also sponsors Earth Day activities each year which encourage locals to buy locally.
Articles about the habitat have not only been published nationally, the habitat is also part of the international world with blog responders from 72 different countries who understand why it exists.
If you watch television, you will see the habitat featured on Discover Wisconsin three times during the next two years, starting March 2011. The habitat is all over their website and print material and calendars as well as the official Wisconsin Tourism Site.
All the beautiful little gardens you mentioned in your letter require constant up-keep from weeding to watering to fertilizing, to the applying of pesticides and for some, mowing.
The habitat is ‘green’ in more ways than one because native plants live with or without our help. The habitat leaves absolutely no carbon footprint.
We would encourage you to take a tour of this amazing place; to step back in history for a bit and enjoy the many kinds of butterflies that already visit the habitat daily.
Mary Ellen Ryall, Executive Director
September 16, 2010 at 11:51 am (Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College, Monarch Butterfly Habitat, Civic Responsibility Writing, Argumentative Writing, Volunteer, Happy Tonics Butterfly Garden, Donations, Palos Verdes blue butterfly)
Tags: Environment, Monarch butterfly, Mary Ellen Ryall, Happy Tonics, Insects, Monarch Butterfly Habitat, Pollinators, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College, Shell Lake, Tabitha Brown, Argumenative writing, Civil responsibility writing, Butterfly, Fawn
Last week the Monarch Butterfly Habitat received bad press from a woman who did not understand the purpose of the habitat. Here is a response from Tabitha Brown, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College, Hayward, Wisconsin, USA.
Letter to the Editor, Washburn County Register:
In regards to the letter sent by Laureli Anderson from Cumberland, I would like to say VOLUNTEER. Happy Tonics is run by volunteers. No one is paid and it is run off of donations and grants. If you want to make a difference do something about it that is constructive. Happy Tonics butterfly Garden is a nonprofit run by volunteers and if you want to make changes to it then volunteer time or make a donation. That “nice pergola” you mentioned was a donation, and so were those benches begging to be sat upon. As a volunteer I tried to find local artists to donate artwork to add to the sanctuary. Maybe you would be more successful?
Some of the grants used to run the gardens have strict guidelines. Grants by the DNR or the Forestry service have stipulations where only certain plants can be used at the sanctuary. Why is that you may ask? Because the plants used at the Garden are Indigenous to the area and these plants are what local wildlife need since people destroy their natural habitats by planting “cute little gardens.”
A natural habitat does not look like your manicured garden. It is wild and beautiful in its own way if you take the time to study and appreciate it. I volunteer at the Butterfly sanctuary. I study plants and wildlife at the Lac Courte Oreilles Community college. Prairie habitat has been reduced to 1% of what it once was less than 100 years ago. People mow it down for their gardens, homes, and farms. The wildlife that once called it home is being destroyed. Did you know the habitat of Palos Verdes blue butterfly was reduced to the size of a baseball field? Guess what that town did to the habitat? They turned it into a baseball field. Now that butterfly is extinct in the wild.
Shell Lake is taking huge steps towards environmental awareness. The Organization that supports the Butterfly Garden in Shell Lake also provides festivals, seminars, and education on environmental awareness issues. They promote sustainable living. So next time you visit the habitat keep that in mind. You can also ask for a guided tour and learn about the plants and maybe once you know what they do you can appreciate them as much as I do.