Home Garden Decor

Today’s garden decor is more of an extension of your living space. Versatile outdoor spaces can be used for dining and lounging with family members, as well as entertaining guests. Decorating your garden for these functions gives you a fabulous alternative to the traditional dinner party! With the wonderful new garden decor trend of creating an outdoor kitchen and dining/living area you are expanding your square footage and increasing your home value. According to “Smart Money” magazine, consumers who spend 5 percent of the value of their home on landscaping can expect to add 15 percent or more to its value. Entertaining trends are following suit with the garden decor trends. Themed garden parties and of course the traditional American Barbeque is all the rage. It’s very easy and affordable to double your living space.

Add a few comfortable weatherproof chairs, an unused table, paint a lasting rug to your patio and you are on your way to doubling your living space or be inventive…Create a grass couch, table and loveseat, using a wood structure covered in sod. Be creative in your garden decor. Center your living/dinning space close to your “kitchen” area. In 2004 alone 14.5 million grills were sold, so that along with a small refrigerator, a prep/serving table and you have just achieved an inexpensive outdoor kitchen. You can always build a more defined structure encompassing built in appliances. Use your imagination and remember your garden decor is a refection of you and your family.

Adding a canopy or fire pit will make a wonderful addition to the completion of your garden decor. Create different rooms outside by separating the areas by plants, screens, and trellises. Place a fire pit in one corner away from all flammables, of course and place some place a few chairs around, to create a wonderful area to tell ghost stories and roast marshmallows. Use a canopy in another area and place an outdoor bed or picnic table under it and this will create a place to lounge in a shaded area and enjoy your garden. Trends are gearing towards mimicking your home outside. So duplicating your living spaces outside is an important aspect to your garden decor.

Adding life to your garden decor is also an essential part. There are many different ways to accomplish this. Make it a project for your whole family. Incorporate a vegetable and herb garden, pond or Butterfly garden to your garden decor. Nothing improves your garden more than the use of plant life, trees, native plants, perennials or annuals. Just make sure that they will survive your climate. Ask your local gardening store for assistance with your selection.

Ensure that your garden decor includes fragrant plants to enhance your outdoor experience. A Butterfly Garden is a perfect avenue to take. Not just beautiful plants to view, but an outdoor lab for your children to explore. Chose a sunny spot and include plants such as Lantana, zinnia, coneflower, butterfly bush and abelia. Butterflies especially love clusters of small tubular flowers. Some species enjoy fennel, parsley, dill, and rue which is a wonderful gateway to incorporate an herb garden. Adding a few of the fragrant plants will assist in drawing in birds bringing in even more life and color to your garden. Interjecting a birdhouse and a water source into your garden decor will ensure that the birds will come back and will provide hours of entertainment.

Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterfly

In all the world, no butterflies migrate like the monarchs of North America. They travel up to three-thousand miles twice a year: south in the fall and north in the spring. To avoid the long, cold northern winters, monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains winter along the California coast. Those east of the Rockies fly south to the mountain forests of Mexico. Unlike migrating birds and whales, however, individual monarchs only make the round-trip once. It is their great-grandchildren that return south the following fall.

The monarch butterfly is sometimes called the “milkweed butterfly” because its larvae are laid on and then upon hatching, eat the milkweed plant. In fact, milkweed is the only thing the larvae can eat.

Many people like to attract monarchs by making a butterfly garden. If you live in the right area of the country and would like to attract monarchs to your garden, you can try planting milkweed. Milkweed seed can be purchased online if your local nursery or home improvement store does not carry it. Many people enjoy raising butterfly gardens simply for pleasure, and others do it for educational or preservation reasons.

Due to the presence of cardenolide aglycones in the monarch’s body that occurs as a result of feeding on milkweed, the monarch butterfly is foul-tasting and poisonous to most of its predators. In a phenomenon known as aposematism, monarch butterflies advertise their dangerous nature with bright colors and areas of high contrast on their skin or wings. Many other members of the animal kingdom also advertise their poisonous potential with bright colors. There are, however, also copy-cat insects and animals that have adapted similar appearances as a means of protection, but are not poisonous.

Monarchs are unique in that they migrate south to a given over-wintering site every year. Just like birds, when the monarch senses a change in the weather, they migrate to a warmer climate. Monarch butterflies that go south do not succeed in returning to where they were born. Most monarch butterflies will die before their migration is through. However, as they lay their eggs along the path of their migration, their children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren simply carry on where their parents left off.

What’s even more amazing is that these new young monarch butterflies are able to continue in the same direction as their parent’s migrating process without any help from their elders.

The monarch butterfly has a puzzling innate ability to navigate across continents to find their winter home. Every year on the flight to and from warmer climates, the monarch’s short-lived offspring, with only four or five weeks to live, continue making the northbound or southbound trek over several generations.

Recent deforestation of the monarch’s over-wintering grounds in Mexico has led to a drastic reduction in the butterfly’s population (as the butterflies, for whatever reason, always return to the same location every season). When their migration destination of milkweed plants is destroyed, they have no place to lay their eggs and therefore threatening future butterfly generations. Efforts to classify the monarch butterfly as a protected species and to restore its habitat are under way, and experts now are more optimistic about the future of the monarch butterfly.

For more about monarch butterflies, with links to recommended sites, visit Monarch Butterflies at “Surfing the Net with Kids.”