Letter: Come check out the monarchs

Published 10:00 pm Monday, August 27, 2018

The monarch migration is in full swing, and there are two public gardens in Albert Lea, where people can see swarms of butterflies. Both should be visited in the next week or two while the meadow blazing star flowers are blooming β€” a favorite of the monarchs, and the namesake of the Blazing Star Trail and Blazing Star Landing. These tall purple flowers, now rare in the wild, are starting to see a comeback as people start choosing flowers and gardens based on values besides beauty alone.

The first garden is at Albert Lea High School in front of the cafeteria entrance. It is handicap-accessible and can be visited after school hours and on weekends. It’s close enough to the driveway to be viewed from inside a car for those with mobility concerns. This prairie garden was planted in spring 2017 with the hard work of high school students and staff in the art department.

The second area is at Fountain Lake Park on the edge of the lake next to downtown. Go down the stairs and turn right, away from the white gazebo and dock. The meadow blazing stars are growing in a bowl-shaped wetland planting designed to filter rain water coming from the downtown streets.

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The meadow blazing star flowers are in peak bloom right now until the end of August or early September. Calm, sunny days are best for seeing monarchs, but shady days are good, too. These gardens attract dozens of monarchs at a time β€” you have to see it to believe it!

Dustin Demmer