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Extension Master Gardeners Make a Difference with a Certified Monarch Waystation

In 2017, the Monarch Joint Venture organization reported that the iconic monarch butterfly has steadily declined by approximately 90% over the last 20 years. Warren County Extension Master Gardeners wanted to make a difference so they designed and installed a certified Monarch Waystation to provide habitat and to help increase the population of monarch butterflies.  A monarch waystation is a garden that includes milkweed plants which serve as the host plant for the monarch butterfly and a variety of nectar plants that the adult butterfly can use as a nectar source. This garden was situated on the Warren County Extension Office grounds to serve as an educational demonstration plot  so the general public would be encouraged to plant more native and pollinator friendly plants in their home garden and landscape.

A Monarch Waystation committee was formed to assist with the installation and timeline for the project. Committee      members worked closely with the agent throughout the 2020 – 2021 year to plan the certified Monarch Waystation. The committee secured a $1500.00 grant from the Warren County Soil Conservation District as well as other community donations. Other committee members contributed by checking and securing material costs and marketing for the project.

Extension Master Gardeners Interns from the virtual 2020  Master Gardener class were given the task of submitting      garden proposals for the future design of the Monarch Waystation. Completed proposals were reviewed by the     committee at the end of January 2021 and the final design was selected. The final design consisted of a combination of multiple designs submitted from the Master Gardener Interns with several native plants arranged in seven 4×8 feet raised beds. 

Warren County Extension Master Gardeners and Interns worked diligently together throughout the spring 2021 season to construct the Monarch Waystation gardens. Volunteers worked on different parts of the project to build the raised bed garden frames, add soil media components to the beds, plant hundreds of pollinator friendly plants, install the water feature and small bubblers for water sources, mulch plants, and water throughout the week. Visit the Warren County Extension Office website at www.warrencountyextension.com/monarch-waystation to see the entire process from start to finish. 

To highlight their efforts, Warren County Extension Master Gardeners received recognition through local media outlets. Their story was featured on WBKO-TV Channel 13, Spectrum News, and in the Bowling Green Daily Times newspaper.    Another TV segment appeared on the Extension Farm and Home Show during National Pollinator Week.

Warren County Extension Master Gardeners have also registered and certified their waystation through Monarch Watch which is the non-profit organization that manages the waystation. By registering their waystation, Warren County Extension Master Gardeners are supporting monarch conservation efforts and the preservation of the monarch      butterfly.

Master Gardeners have donated a total of 218 volunteer hours to the certified Monarch Waystation. According to the National Independent Sector, the value of volunteer time for the state of Kentucky is $23.10 per hour for 2020. If you multiply the hours donated by the hourly rate, Warren County Extension Master Gardeners have given a total of $5,035.80 to the Warren County community.  Plans are currently being made to install other features for the Monarch Waystation in the fall 2021 season.

2021 Annual Flower Garden Trial

The Warren County Extension Master Gardeners planted 20 new cultivars of annual flowers in May for the University of Kentucky Flower Trial Program. The University of Kentucky (UK) flower trial is a state-wide cooperative effort with the Master Gardener program to help evaluate performance of new flowering bedding plant cultivars in Kentucky. The main trial garden is located at the UK Arboretum in Lexington which contains 35 bedding plant cultivars.

Angelonia “Aria Purple”

Warren County is a trial site along with other counties including  Barren, Boyle, Breckinridge, Christian, Daviess, Hardin, Hopkins, Marshall, Mason, Mercer, Pulaski, and Washington.

The goal of the trial garden is to provide a fair evaluation of the garden performance for each flowering plant species and cultivar included.  To achieve this goal, it is necessary to use uniform cultural practices across the garden and to minimize environmental effects.

Pentas “Butterfly Red”

Extension Master Gardeners maintain the demonstration plots by watering and weeding the beds each week. Twice each month from mid-May until October, they rank the flowers on a scale of 0 to 5 with “5” being the best and “0” being the poorest.  

Lantana “Havana Sunset”

Here are some of the annual flower varieties that you will find in the 2021 growing season.

Bidens “Bidy Gonzales Top”
Canna “Cannaova Yellow”
Canna “Cannaova Red”
Lantana “Havana Harvest Moon”
Pentas “Butterly Light Lavender”
Catharanthus “Tattoo Papaya”
Catharanthus “Tattoo Cherry”

If interested in  viewing the annual flower garden trials, please feel free to stop by the Warren County Extension Office located at 5162 Russellville Road in Bowling Green, KY.