How Raising Monarch Butterflies promotes healthy Well-being

How many of you would love to go on a retreat each year that promotes well-being, inner peace and gain new knowledge? Well, how about creating a beautiful garden with bright colourful flowers, and of course, you have plenty of Swan Plants for the caterpillars… that would do as much to your positive well being as going on a retreat.

When you’re outside relaxing in your garden within nature, your breathing slows down and your blood pressure begins to lower. You become relaxed. Which in turns breaks down stress and tensions within the body. Stress is a major factor which leads to common illnesses and inflammation within the body.

You feel instantly relaxed whilst in the garden and worries just slip away when doing odd jobs outside, whilst grounding yourself into the Earth. Whether you are planting veggies, and flowers, weeding, or just admiring your garden, it all has an impact on your well-being. When you have an established garden the birds will flock in. Not to mention you will also get a nice dose of Vitamin D into your body. People are going back to basics again by growing their own veggies, and trying to become un-busy, by using the land that they have as a sanctuary in their home. A place where they can sit and relax away from their hectic lives, the hustle and bustle of the malls, school runs and work pressures. You have all heard that saying – “sit and smell the roses” by “Walter Hagen” which means give yourself permission to do this, sit and relax in the comfort of your own special garden that YOU created.  This is also telling us that we need to slow our lives down and really take a look at what is going on in our lives and the world around us. We owe it to ourselves to watch the seasons unfold, the flowers bloom, the leaves drop off the trees.  Sit back and let our minds go silent and feel the breeze, the mood of the quiet, or sounds of the birds. Perhaps you become engrossed with the clouds and daydream, watch a beautiful sunrise, or sunset. If you are like me, you may sit next to your swan plants and just watch your caterpillars strip away your plants. This is a time where I take photos of the caterpillars, chrysaliades and Monarchs and share online for others to experience.  I actually love feeling the wind brush against my skin and am thankful for the fresh air that I breathe. Whilst spending more and more time in the garden I can recognise the different sounds of each bird and look up and see if I’m correct. I also love seeing how much my flowers have grown in a couple of days. It fascinates me the patterns and the beauty they bring to us.  Raising Monarch butterflies in your own back garden can get time consuming as we become addicted to its magical elements. We just can’t get enough of witnessing a caterpillar about to pupate or a brand-new Monarch butterfly emerge right in front of us. We spend so many hours outside, we become healthier, happier individuals and we have become less stressed, and more relaxed and focused on our breathing.

Every day, it is the smallest things that bring the most joy into my life.  I notice my lilies growing taller, and wonder which day the colour will emerge. Right now seeing new seeds germinate in front of my eyes still baffles and excites me, and my children cannot wait to tell me there is a new seed that has just sprouted.  Often I will check my seedlings many times each day to see a new one pop up. I truly get excited about the little things.

The only stressful times I can see from raising monarch butterflies are the amount of caterpillars you may end up having, and lack of plants. But there are ways around that – once you have grown your knowledge about this amazing life cycle you will discover that you need to cull a few eggs and cover your swan plants so that you have enough for the coming summer months when it is peak Monarch season. 

You don’t have to have a large space or garden, even if you have a few pots or an area where you can sit amongst. You still feel a sense of satisfaction and belonging. You will soon want to brighten it up with flowers, which are also beneficial for the bees and butterflies.

I have met many retired people that care for monarchs as their summer passion. It gives them a purpose and a job, and in return they are rewarded with joy, satisfaction and love. Last week I met Gordon, who is on a quest to make Oamaru the Monarch Butterfly capital of NZ, and he gave me so much inspiration you could not imagine he was 89 and starts most days at 7am down at the glass houses in the council botanical garden, raising swan plants. When speaking to him, he’s unstoppable and cant talk highly enough about being in nature surrounded by caterpillars and monarchs butterflies. It is something so special that the Monarchs do as a creature – they are beautiful, they don’t harm any other insects, just live in the moment and I think this is the message the Monarchs want to bring us. Live in the moment, be free of your troubles. Everyone can transform and overcome struggles just like the butterfly had in its former life of a caterpillar. Have faith that life can and will get better if you make a change.

If you don’t have a garden, why not go visit your local park or botanical gardens. Sitting there surrounded by the sounds of birds singing and butterflies fluttering around, enhances peace. You get a sense of gratitude from every species that shares our planet. 

The learning you get from being in your garden is immense. I love to companion plant now which helps reduce bugs organically that have appeared on my plants.  I’m aware of the importance of not spreading harmful pesticides.  I love the fact that I now know so many of the plants and flowers names. Gardening is not new to me, as a kid I took pride in my house plants and enjoyed tidying my parents’ garden and making it look nice, even edging the grass neatly. For the last 15 years I’ve owned my house and put heaps of effort and love into my garden, glasshouse and vegetable boxes.  I loved doing what I know and enjoy.

It is amazing to see so many people who are new to gardening and realise the importance of their well being when surrounded by nature. Monarch Butterflies are declining around the world as pesticides are poisoning their environment and humans are taking away their plants and habitat. They need our help, so they are around for future generations. Soon you will be like me with so many swan plants and cannot get enough of outdoor living.  

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