Unsung Hero #62

If you see a monarch butterfly around town — at the Community Garden next to Long Lots Elementary School, Wakeman Town Farm or anyplace else — you’ll marvel at its beauty and grace.

You should also thank Alice Ely.

Alice Ely

The Westporter is a garden coach. She gardens “with you, not for you,” her website says. “Whether you are just beginning, want to take your skills to the next level, branch out or troubleshoot, I’m happy to help.”

She is a master gardener and a compost maven. But she holds a special place in her heart for monarchs.

Alice’s inspiration, design and transplanting skills helped create the butterfly garden at the Community Garden, across from the compost area.

That garden is now a registered monarch way station. Filled with milkweed and pollinator plants, it is flourishing.

Inspired Community Garden members help plant, water and maintain it.

Alice was also a driving force behind the habitat at WTF, and 2 others on Cross Highway. Beyond providing monarchs with homes, she helps ensure them a pathway of habitats on their migratory routes.

There’s a lot more to that than just planting milkweed and “letting nature do its thing,” Alice notes. It’s painstaking work — but it pays off in gorgeous, environmentally crucial ways.

A monarch butterfly, at the Westport Community Garden.

Monarch butterflies — and the rest of nature that they nurture — can’t thank Alice Ely.

But “06880” readers can. Which is why she is this week’s Unsung Hero.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Send nominations to: dwoog@optonline.net)

15 responses to “Unsung Hero #62

  1. We’ve had a few of these beautiful creatures suddenly take up residence in our flower beds over the past couple of years. Is this why?

  2. Eleanor Sasso

    Contact for Alice, please…?

  3. Sandra Urist

    When my grandson comes over in early summer, we always check the milkweed leaves for monarch eggs, then we count the monarchs and now we count the caterpillars. Always exciting to see the difference in caterpillar size.

  4. Alice Rules.

  5. Monarchs are indeed beautiful and graceful, and we’ve had dozens in our garden further down on Cross Highway this year – so thanks, Alice! But it turns out that monarchs are also quite territorial. Not only do they chase off butterfly competitors, but last week I saw three monarchs gang up and chase a goldfinch clear off my property. Had to rub my eyes. It’s a jungle out there!

  6. Alice is AMAZING! She has done the most beautiful gardening work at Wakeman Town Farm and has filled it with monarch butterflies that she has raised herself in her own monarch way station at her home. We are so incredibly lucky to have her dedication, passion and master gardening skills at WTF. Thank you, Alice, for making our world a more beautiful place!

  7. Arthur C Schoeller

    Wondering if these plants are deer resistant. I’d be happy to establish one on my property but I am increasingly getting overwhelmed with deer!

    • Mary Cookman Schmerker SHS '58

      We have a lot of deer where we live ( near a state park) and boy do they love to eat! Since we no longer live in Connecticut I can’t help you but I can say that we have planted native flowering plants and bushes and we have a large number of butterflies, bees and hummingbirds that visit us daily. Someone can advise you which plants will attract the “right visitors” and will be unappetizing to the deer. Good luck. It’s worth the effort.

      • Mary Cookman Schmerker SHS '58

        P.S. I love the title: “Compost Maven”. I may adopt that for myself. We compost and Charlie says it is just like making money only not a crime.

    • Nathalie Fonteyne

      Milkweeds are not on the deer menu. There are many plants that will be beneficial for pollinators and butterfly that are not the deer first choices ( deer will eat anything if this all there is to eat). Natives are best. There are many lists out there that you can google but a few examples on top of milkweeds ( asclépias) would monarda, mountain mint, nepeta, salvia, baptisia Amasonia.

      • Mary Cookman Schmerker Staples '58

        Great information. We have not tried milkweed here but I’ll look for it.

  8. India Penney

    Alice is remarkable. She just breathes and flowers and plants grow. With a sweep of her hand she creates beautiful signs. As if that weren’t enough, she raises her own monarchs. I’m sure she has other talents as yet undiscovered. Glad to see her publicly recognized.

  9. Joanne Heller

    I love seeing all the butterflies at the Westport Community Garden. Thank you Alice, for creating such a beautiful butterfly garden.

  10. I’ve been raising monarch caterpillars this season after having planted milkweed last year behind my house. We had 22 caterpillars. 6 are currently in chrysalis and we had one fatality. But so far so good!