At my show last October at Cameron Gallery at the Scrap Exchange I had an interactive sculpture called “Golden Seeds” With that piece I asked visitors to take home a paper milkweed pod in which I had placed some milkweed seeds. I gathered the seeds the previous fall while I was at Penland. I gave some instructions on planting and hoped that maybe some seeds might make their way into the ground.
I also planted some of the seeds in a part of our yard best suited for milkweed- right by our HVAC compressor. Hot head, wet feet is a good rule of thumb for milkweeds. Sure enough, this spring I was so delighted when I saw six or seven little common milkweed sprouts among the swamp milkweed and the Joe Pye weed. My kind of weeds!! The milkweed has flourished and are now strong healthy plants!
My own milkweed made me so happy, then I got even better news from Katherine. A coworker who had come to the show brought some seeds home to Chapel Hill and she also has milkweed plants from the seeds!! And she saw a Monarch on the milkweed! I was over the moon at this news. It worked! It worked! Maybe other folks have planted their seeds as well.
After my show in October, I wasn't sure what the next steps for this work would be. When I heard about how the seeds from my sculpture had become a living plant, I began to see a way forward. What if my work around Monarchs and Migration becomes a work of spreading both habitat and awareness one seed at a time? How can I create even more action, over a period of time, that includes as many people as possible? How can I record that action, map it, show its impact? I regret now not giving visitors who took seeds an opportunity to report back on their success. More people may have planted the seeds had they known that their success would be mapped.
So much that is happening in the world right now is overwhelming. This tiny little action of helping a plant to grow, that helps a butterfly to grow, is something that gives me hope. Given half a chance- Nature recovers. I have to keep hoping we will give her half a chance.
I have lots to work out about next steps but fortunately I have a few months more before the milkweed produces seeds. Meanwhile, I hope that some migrating Monarchs find the plants that we have grown for them and leave some little monarchs behind!