Solana Beach SeaWeeders, council members open new pollinator garden

Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner and council members cut the ribbon to commemorate the new pollinator garden.
(Luke Harold)

With orange and black monarch butterflies fluttering in the background, Solana Beach City Council members and the SeaWeeders Garden Club cut the ribbon to mark the opening of a new pollinator garden along the east wall of the La Colonia Community Center on June 24.

The new garden, which was planted in April, is part of the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge to support the dwindling monarch butterfly population.

“The idea here is to have a diverse array of milkweed for monarchs, which are endangered, and other nectar plants that attract not only butterflies but also bees, hummingbirds, other kinds of pollinators,” said Kathleen Drummond, president of the SeaWeeders.

Caterpillars eat milkweed in the new garden.
(Luke Harold)

Monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs, because the caterpillars that hatch rely on an all milkweed diet until they form their chrysalides. The butterflies can consume a wider array of nectar-bearing plants. Other plants in the garden include coyote mint, fuchsia flowered gooseberry, mule fat and coast goldenbrush.

In April, the SeaWeeders handed out more than 350 native narrow-leaf milkweed plants and 1,430 seeds for free to at least 90 Solana Beach residents who registered in advance, and made deliveries to more people who were on a waitlist.

Judy Hegenauer, a SeaWeeders member and former councilwoman, said it’s been fun having so many people throughout the community supporting the monarch population.

“There are a whole bunch of people who are just interested in butterflies,” she said.

The influx of monarch butterflies in the new garden are also going to play a role in the Dia de los Muertos festival celebration that the La Colonia Community Foundation will hold this October. According to tradition, monarchs represent the souls of loved ones who come back to visit on the annual holiday, which takes place each year as monarch butterflies arrive to their wintering site in Mexico.

“We wanted to incorporate the monarchs into the theme of Dia de los Muertos for the first time ever for our event,” said Lisa Montes, the foundation’s vice president.

Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner was one of 600 mayors to take the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, which was started by the National Wildlife Federation. She mentioned the migration they make, which can be up to 3,000 miles.

“But in recent years we’re seeing their population plummet, and it’s due to loss of habitat, it’s due to herbicides, it’s due to pesticides, it’s due to climate change,” she said during a brief speech before the ribbon cutting. “And so we’re here to do something about that.”