A 501(c)3 Non-Profit

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BUTTERFLY GARDEN
A few years into the Orchard stewardship, co-founder Judy Carson and naturalist Elizabeth Hunter planted a butterfly garden in memory of Jan McKinney Conley, a friend who had recently died. Over the decades, this small plot of showy flowers has seen very good and equally bad times but has always held forth to provide the butterfly and honeybee a plentiful stopping over point.
In March of this past year, the Orchard experienced a loss with the death of Judy; the outpouring of memories of her good work and heart were abundant. In August, under the guidance of landscape architect, Marianne Cicala, we began culling the old and dying, cutting back the overgrowth, freeing the buried, hidden, and pulling weeds. Beginning in the spring of 2022, new monarch-friendly plants will fill a space twice the original size with paths for walking, benches for waiting and wishing, and views to rival the back deck scenery. It will be an exquisite, educational journey into not only helping to do our part to save the planet, but to continue our mission to “save the good stuff.”
Preserving the natural environment is an important part of our mission and monarch butterflies continue to top that list. Elizabeth Hunter, writer, teacher, and mentor got us started. She wondered if monarchs could coexist in a traditional, carefully controlled, chemical (albeit far fewer than in most commercial orchards) apple orchard. Enlisting cofounders Kit Trubey and Judy Carson, the trio soon discovered the answer was YES.

The Orchard is a natural home of milkweed, the larval host plant for monarchs. Female monarchs lay eggs only on the underside of milkweed leaves. The three women soon planted a flower garden with Monarch-attractive flowers that would fuel their annual migration to over-winter in Mexico. They trained the orchard field crew to preserve the milkweed and the store staff to collect the eggs and nurture them through their amazing life cycle of egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly.

The butterfly "punches through" and dries out from its chrysalis birth, tests its new wings, and flies away. Those born in September, generally the 6th generation of the year, fly all the way to Mexico, more than 1,500 miles from the Orchard, where they spend the winter. Hunter introduced us to Monarch Watch where we trained in the art of tagging the migrating butterflies. Over the years, six of the hundreds the Orchard has tagged have been found in Mexico at the migration site.

Although nationally, monarch numbers are back on the rise (especially the western monarch) after a downslide and then huge decrease in 2018, Orchard numbers have continued to decrease. Climate change is said to be one of the mitigating factors, but the good news is that the monarch seems to be adapting to the fluctuation. And with the rejuvenation of the butterfly garden and the hundreds of pollinator-friendly flowers, we plan on reversing that downward trend.

Our monarch butterfly preservation project was featured in Blue Ridge Country Magazine article by naturalist and Orchard volunteer Elizabeth Hunter. Please take a moment and read the article,  “Saving the Good Stuff”. 

Learn more about monarch butterflies.

NOW . . . THE PLAN

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THE PLANTS

Saved

Blackeyed Susan

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Tulip Poplar

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Fennel

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Lily

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Fringed Loosestrife

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Japanese Chestnut

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Lilac

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Iris

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Black Mulberry

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Butterfly Bush

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Once buried amongst the overgrowth in the Butterfly Garden, theiris’, black-eyed Susans, milkweed, and fennel as well as butterfly bushes at the original entrance have released from their weedy grave.  The additions to the garden will not only offer nectar for the butterflies but serve as host plants and food for the caterpillars with pawpaw trees, aster, echinacea, Russian sage, verbena, zinnias, and added to the fennel will be dill, oregano and parsley—a favorite food for the caterpillars.
Wind chimes high in the trees will serenade both visitors and critters. Educational plaques will identify the varieties and informational signs will "talk" to the Orchard eco-system. And overlooking the red barn will be a memorial for Judy, her smiling face and sparkling eyes shining down on and welcoming visitors to come and share the Orchard's magic of the monarchs.

Planted

Parsley

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Butterfly Bush

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Zinnia

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Oregano

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Aster

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White Coneflower

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Bee Balm

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Comfrey

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Guara

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Paw Paw

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Confederate Jasmine

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Echinacea

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Aguga

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Creeping Thyme

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Dill

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Verbena

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Lavender

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Sweet Bay Magnolia

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Red Bud

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Daisy

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Russian Sage

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We would like to thank . . .

We would like to thank the following people/businesses for their generous donations of time and plants. Please support their efforts to save the good stuff for the peoples in our and surrounding communities.

3 pawpaw trees ~ Lilly Patch Farm
Tree removal etc. ~ Affordable Tree Service
Assorted plants ~ LakeView Garden Center

To the volunteers ~ Paul Allen, Bob Ammann, George & Jackie Brothers, James Cooper, Diane Edwards, Denise Hoebeke, Cheryl Kelton, Andrea Laine, John & Karen McRae, Ellen Miller, Gailya & George Walter

And a special thank you to Marianne Cicala for donating hours of her time to help us realize Judy's dream

ADDRESSES

ADDRESS:
1025 Orchard Road

Spruce Pine, NC 28777

Blue Ridge Parkway
(mile marker 328.3)

PHONE:
828-765-9531
TOLL-FREE:
888-765-9531

EMAIL:
information@altapassorchard.org

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2021 HOURS

CLOSED UNTIL
MAY 2022

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Copyright © The Historic Orchard at Altapass 2022. All Rights Reserved. Site designed by Blue Ridge Visions

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