Interview: How to prep a site full of invasives to plant milkweed

In my last post, I said that I would tell the tragic story of what happened to my first monarch caterpillar that I raised this fall. I’m going to get to that next time.

This week the New Leaf, our quarterly newsletter at the Botanical Gardens at Asheville, arrived in the mailboxes of our membership with some 600+ native plant lovers learning about my blog for the first time. (Hello friends!) So I would like to do something extra special today: an interview with Jay Kranyik, the garden manager of the Botanical Gardens.

In this video that I put together this week, Jay explains the following:

  • How to prepare a planting site for a new planting bed;
  • How to eradicate invasive plants from the planting bed organically with cardboard and mulch;
  • Why he doesn’t use herbicides at the Botanical Gardens;
  • The best way to plant milkweed.

Also a note: my favorite part of our newsletter is Jay’s garden report. Jay agonizes over his report with good reason: by the end of the process, it often reads as poetry. It also always makes me proud to work at a public gardens that does not compromise on integrity.

I just love this part of Jay’s report our current New Leaf:

“In contemporary American garden design, plants are making a comeback.” The horticulture committee recently shared a hearty gut laugh when I read this sentence aloud, one of those priceless moments when everyone is in on the joke. It was the lead sentence of a postcard sent to us to promote a new book called The Authentic Garden. As a garden founded, maintained, and cherished by radical traditionalists, deep ecologists, and nature mystics, we don’t acquiesce to the whimsies of the horticulture trade with its endless freakish cultivars and “Frankenflower” hybrids that perhaps speak more of the vain human ego than a true reverence for the natural world. Nor do we follow the “flavor of the month” in landscape architecture and garden design, or attend urgent seminars such as: “Maximizing visitor experience, corporate branding, and sustainability through digital social media apps.” Conversely, we quietly go about our work by simply honoring the natural processes and the wisdom of evolution that grace and define the art form that is the southern Appalachians. Authentic? To our core. A unique mission without compromise.

Speaking of freakish cultivars … Okay, so this has nothing to do with my post, but it’s really cool. My niece showed me an app called FaceSwap Live, and I’ve been kind of obsessed with it. This is the first time in my life I’ve had amazing hair:

Heather with fantastic hair

About MonarchLover

Heather Rayburn is a native of Asheville, NC., and works at the Botanical Gardens at Asheville, a non-profit 10-acre public garden dedicated to the promotion of plants native to the Southern Appalachians. She has a B.A. from UNC-Asheville and a M.S. from the University of Tennessee, both in Mass Communication with a focus on environmental issues and social justice. She's also a dog lover and baker.

4 comments on “Interview: How to prep a site full of invasives to plant milkweed

  1. Pingback: Preparing a yard for a pollinator garden: part one | Monarch Lover

  2. Very informative video! Jay is a botanical guru for sure.

    The biggest takeaway for me is that most people will be best off conditioning and sprouting seeds in trays instead of directly in the earth, that or buying small milkweed plants and planting them after about April 15th.

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