caterpillar on leaf

A Love Affair with Gardening

My love of nature started at a very young age. Growing up, my parents were always gardening. Every new place we would move to, it didn’t take long for them to establish a lush garden paradise, reminiscent of their home country, Vietnam. From dragonfruit, papaya, jujubes, mango, banana, citrus trees, opo squash, sugarcane, an assortment of mints, the list just goes on; there was always something fresh from the garden for the table. Thus, began my love affair with gardening. 

For the Love of Pollinators

The only exception being, with my inherited green thumb, I would only want to plant flowers. So while my parents took care of transforming the backyard into a lush tropical jungle full of edible fruits and produce, I took charge of the front yard. Fortunately, for me, my mom supported me in whatever plants I wanted to order or purchase. I was her shopping buddy at the local nurseries. As a teen, I was researching and ordering plants that I fell in love with. I would spend my weekends clearing the ground, planting, weeding, and fertilizing. Back then, I was just doing something that gave me pleasure. I took pride in watching my plants grow and flourish. Since this was the time before we all knew better, Miracle Gro was used as fertilizer and pesticides was used to get rid of pests. Boy, have the times changed! I now garden for our pollinators, keeping things pesticide free and fertilizing with seaweed extract and molasses. 

butterflyI was inspired to focus on a pollinator garden when my son first started school. There was a parent there who, through donations and with parent volunteers, had created a Monarch Waystation! Kindergarten parents were asked to volunteer for certain tasks within the classroom, one of which was to water and weed the garden. You bet your butt I was one of the first to sign up for that task! 

It was only a matter of time, and some research, before I was visiting the local nurseries in search of milkweed. Now three years down the road, I have an assortment of host plants for our local butterfly population as well as a variety of nectaring plants for our pollinators. Nothing brings me more joy than seeing the hummingbirds flit about, the Monarchs circling around looking for a mate, and to hear the bees buzzing around. 

Growing the Next Generation

As a mother, I am dedicated to teaching my children how to respect and love nature and to take great care with all the living things around us. My kids are beyond excited whenever we spot a caterpillar on the milkweed or when we catch a butterfly eclosing from a chrysalis. When my daughter was in preschool, we decided to share this experience with her classroom. So I bought a book on Monarchs, some milkweed plants, a butterfly enclosure, collected caterpillars from my own garden and brought them into the classroom. Next thing I know, they were parading the rest of the school through the class to watch the caterpillars munch on the milkweed and then to form their chrysalides. Both teachers and students, alike, were in awe of the beauty and bright color of the chrysalides and utterly astonished with the Monarch butterflies themselves! I informed them about the plight of the Monarchs and a few teachers were even inspired to start butterfly gardens of their own. 

I can only hope that my love for nature will rub off on my children. We are off to a good start, though, as my daughter is now my shopping buddy at the nurseries and loves to help pick out new plants for the garden. I am trying my best to lead by example so that my kids, and others as well, can truly understand the impact that we have on the planet. I tell people about my pollinator garden and how important it is for us to help out our little friends. Climate change is real and it’s so very important for every person on this Earth to stop ignoring it. Just the lack of bees that I’ve witness in my own garden this year, compared to last year, is beyond worrisome. I cannot reiterate enough to people to stop killing the bees! Stop killing our pollinators!

Get a personal look at Frances’ pollinator garden here

Frances KingFrances King is a dedicated mama, passionate cook and baker, and finds real joy in sharing her love of gardening with those around her. She works as a private chef and focuses on preparing health conscious, organic meals for her clients. She currently resides in sunny California with her husband, two children, and four furry ones.