This past week Michelle Obama held her sixth annual White House garden planting. Each year the first lady has welcomed kids from local schools to help her plant fruits and vegetables and talk about healthy eating. This year Michelle Obama expanded her garden to include the White House’s first pollinator garden designed to support bees, monarch butterflies and other pollinators.
This is an exciting new development and provides a great opportunity to talk about the ‘food’ that pollinators themselves depend on – as well as the important role they play in our own food production. The White House has kept bees on their grounds for several years now, but this is the first time that they have specifically planted native, flowering plants to provide good sources of pollen and nectar for these and other native bees.
Additionally, the new pollinator garden hosts at least two different species of milkweed – the plant that monarch butterflies are dependent on for reproducing. Monarchs have been in decline across the country in large part due to the extensive loss of milkweed in agriculture from the use of the herbicide glyphosate (also known as Round Up) in connection with Round Up resistant crops. Planting milkweed in our gardens and schoolyards is one of the best things that we can all do to help the monarch butterflies come back.
Organizations like Monarch Watch (which NRDC has partnered with to plant milkweed) provides milkweed plants to schools, businesses and the general public for planting what they call “monarch waystations”- areas that can support monarch reproduction along the butterflies’ amazing migration from Mexico to Canada and back. In February, President Obama announced a commitment with the leaders of Mexico and Canada to work together to help preserve the monarchs’ migration. So it’s a great first step to see the White House itself become a waystation for monarchs by planting milkweed in their first ever pollinator garden!
To help NRDC and Monarch Watch plant milkweed in other locations click here. You can also join NRDC in telling EPA to impose restrictions on the use of herbicides that are eliminating milkweed by clicking here.
And see Michelle Obama discuss the White House’s new pollinator garden here: