Welome to the debut of Monarch Lover

Hello Friends — My name is Heather Rayburn, and I’m a native of Asheville, N.C., a mountain town surrounded by the Blue Ridge Parkway and a short drive to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (Yes, that’s me in the picture above with a butterfly that I raised this fall.) I’ve always had a passion for native plants. For the past eight years, I have had the extreme good fortune to work at the Botanical Gardens at Asheville, (BGA) a 10-acre public gardens dedicated to the promotion of plants native to the Southern Appalachians.

I’ve learned a lot working at the Gardens. It’s a magical place featuring more than 600 native species, with at least 70 of those plants on the rare or endangered list. We operate on a shoestring budget and have about 80 volunteers who keep things running. I created this blog and website so I could share with you what I’ve learned and, hopefully, you will be inspired not only to join the BGA, but also to bring native plant landscaping to your own yard.

Below: Red-tailed hawk photographed next to
Botanical Gardens at Asheville’s visitor center


Red-tail Hawk

I’ll also share funny stories, baking adventures, and the ups-and-downs of putting native plant landscaping into practice in my own yard. My goal: one blog post every other week. So stay tuned for my next blog post where I will begin to detail one of the most satisfying projects I’ve ever had in my own garden: attracting and raising monarch butterflies.


Ben Gillum Keller-Williams
Ben Gillum, of Keller-Williams Realty in Asheville, N.C.

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.

20 comments on “Welome to the debut of Monarch Lover

  1. Would love to hear comments and ideas for the green space we hope to make downtown on Haywood St known as St. Lawrence Green…the Monarchs would be a wonderful addition if that could thrive in that space?

    • Hi Kathleen — I would love to see that property turned into a real park. I asked Jay, our garden manager, about planting milkweed at SLG. He recommends against planting milkweed in central downtown. Monarchs are pretty sloppy fliers, and Jay said he’s concerned about attracting them downtown where they could be negatively impacted by wind shear off buildings or by colliding with big trucks. In neighborhoods, they’re more buffered from those things. There are other native plantings that would be better for a downtown garden, and I can find out what he recommends if you’d like. Since the urban heat island effect is in play up on that site, you might want to consider a garden of drought-tolerant natives like the plantings around our upper parking lot at the Botanical Gardens. It’s still great for pollinators and looks beautiful. Cheers, Heather

      • Heather thank you for your wealth of knowledge. This plan requires special direction to keep it green and simple with low maintenance yet beautiful. We would all like to stay far away from anything over designed or including cement!

  2. Cheers and salutations, Heather. A great mission, indeed.

    I used to live in central coast California, & regularly visited the Monarchs winter stomping grounds in Pismo Beach. Fabulous.

    Thanks again & keep up the good work.

  3. Hello Heather,
    I look forward to finding out how to get rid of some of the invasive plants on my hillside and plant some
    milkweed to attract Monarch butterflies! We’re going to need some help!
    Thanks for doing a fun blog that we can enjoy but also learn from.

  4. Thanks friends and Happy Thanksgiving! Ellen, I definitely plan to do a post about the cardboard method. I can’t wait to share my monarch pictures and adventures from this fall. Fingers crossed that I will be able to figure out how to do that without too much problem. Cheers, Heather

  5. Congratulations, Heather, on an inspirational, instructional, attractive website! You continually amaze me. With you behind them, the Monarch will win this battle! I look forward to reading and learning from your postings and will try in my tiny roadside planting area, to put some of your suggestions to use, especially about planting and growing milkweeds for the Monarchs. Please explain in one of your blogs how you removed much of the invasive plants in the Botanical Gardens by using cardboard. And do say a word now and then about the honeybee’s problems and help us learn what to plant that they need.

    Looking forward to your every posting!!
    Ellen Fleming

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