I have let Mulberry trees grow wild in three areas on the farm. Yesterday evening – on my way to the vegetable garden suddenly a cloud of startled monarch butterflies flew out of the trees. At that moment I knew why I loved those trees.

I dropped my vegetables and grabbed for the phone but by then most of the bright and beautiful butterflies had wooshed on their fairy wings back into the stand of trees.

I counted at least twenty separate butterflies hanging in the branches of the mulberries like turning leaves. Autumnal coloured wings turning, opening and closing like nebulous heart beats made from sunset skies. It was magical.

This is the first time I have ever seen so many in the garden or so many close together. I was enchanted.

It was like a divine pat on the back. Look the cosmos was saying – all your milkweeds have done the trick. The new butterflies are gathering together to join the migration. You and your wilderness gardens have made a difference.

And in the mulberry trees no less.

Here is how to grow a mulberry tree. Put pots of soil under a big old mulberry tree. By late summer mulberry trees will be growing in your pots.

I wonder if rain at the wrong time affects the butterflies takeoff. I will let you know when they leave.

They might have gone already.

Boiled Eggs and Pig Cakes waiting for first farm breakfast.

I hope you have a lovely day.



  1. I dont think we have any Mulberry trees which is a shame as l would grow some just to encourage butterflies. We have mauve daisy plants in the garden that spread further each year and the bees love them…so l suppose l am doing my bit..

  2. What a special reward. We used to feed our silkworms on Mullberry leaves when we were kids. Laura

  3. I do not know if we have any mulberries here in Maine. Probably not growing wild, might be the wrong zone. We have lots of milkweed around here, good for the butterflies, bad for the sheep. I would have loved to have seen those monarchs!

  4. So, you’re seeing more Monarchs this year as well Celi? Here as well!! It is so very heartening after their ongoing downturn over the past (what 10?) years or so!: ) They’re gathering here as well… Guess I’ll need to go have a closer look at the Mulberry trees: )

    • I don’t think I’ve seen a Monarch since we moved to Montana. We used to see them all the time in Texas. Hmmmmm. Maybe I just haven’t been watching. Not sure. We’ve already had a frost so maybe their migration pattern is further east of here. I miss them……

  5. I know there are mulberries here. The evidence is all over the boats I work on when the berries ripen and the birds find them. A couple of years ago, the monarchs gathered on trees and shrubs in a town south of here. I heard about it after the fact, so missed seeing it — lucky you!

  6. Poetry in motion – that is what a flutter by is…. (and we call them flutter by’s in our home….) Our area in Texas is part of the migration path and I love coming upon a tree filled with them. Working right on the bank of the Trinity river allows us to see them in the area. WHAT a zucchini!!!! It looks like a watermelon!

  7. That’s very interesting. In my work to restore the historic Illinois prairie, I have killed many a mulberry tree. Perhaps I will have to reconsider in some areas. The tree does tend to be invasive.
    Just curious, how do you think the Monarchs are benefiting from the mulberry.
    Thank you for your blogs each day!

    • Mulberries are natives which is why I don’t mind them invading specific areas of the farm. But I think as tpmthe butterflies it would be shelter near water maybe? I am not sure they have chosen the mulberry specifically ? I not sure . It is a good sized cool stand of trees

  8. There is a fabulous book by Barbara Kingsolver about monarchs and climate change. It is a great read. You would no doubt be enchanted with the book Celi!

  9. The monarchs and other butterflies love our zinnias. It is so wonderful to see all of them alighting on the colorful blooms–a feast for the eyes! And all the flowers (including the ones on the veggie plants) bring in the bees and other bugs. We even have dragonflies. Such a beautiful microcosm!

  10. Monarchs! ahhhh what a treat for the eyes and heart! and then there is the gourmet treat for the pigs!

  11. I love mulberries but am so grateful we don’t have any in the back yard. If you think a couple of peacocks make a mess, try flying foxes, which travel in packs… Beautiful monarchs. Butterflies have such short, vivid, mysterious lives – what is it that suddenly tells them it’s time to descend on certain trees en masse, or hurl themselves at some unfeasibly distant goal?

  12. I have mulberry trees growing everywhere…they tend to multiply like weeds…now I must go out and see if I have Monarchs. We also have lots of MIlkweed I let it grow wild all over the farm ditch banks and pastures!

  13. In my travels to other post offices I have heard several people talking about the butterflies and how this is the most they have seen in our area in years. They sure are a wonder!

  14. Mulberry trees! My folks had one in their yard in Kansas. Mom kept hearing ‘plop! plop! plop-plop!” She looked out the window – birds all over the ground – DEAD DRUNK and falling from the tree from eating fermented mulberries! Thy eventually staggered around, then flew away.

    A little town near us named Mariposa (Spanish for butterfly) celebrates the migration of the monarchs each year. Moro Bay south of here at the coast also celebrates the migration of the monarchs. The tree trunks and leaves blossom with their golden-ochre-persimmon beauty! So beautiful, so harmless – a true gift from nature!

    Phantastic photos, Miss C!.

    • Monarch Grove is a neighborhood in Los Osos, which is adjacent to Morro Bay. My old colleague lives there! We went to school in San Luis Obispo. The butterflies get everywhere!

  15. Giant tortoises love mulberry, too! Do you know if they are white or red mulberry? We have tons of white here, which are invasive and love full sun. Around my house, I have more of the native red ones. I pick leaves all summer for the tortoises.

      • I was just about to ask if they are the native red mulberries. They are not native here. Black mulberries grew on the perimeters of the apricot orchards to keep bird busy while the apricots ripened. Cultivars of mulberries were selected to ripen at the same time or just prior to the cultivar of apricot within the orchard. They were used for the pruned too.

  16. My milkweed did so poorly this year. No idea why. I saw ONE monarch all summer. Plenty of mosquitoes though. Today my husband got bit 3 places, me too.

  17. Sugar ! Best piece of gardening advice I have read for many a year – put pots of soil under old mulberry tree > harvest a crop of free plants at the end of the season !!! Now to find an old mulberry tree 🙂 !

  18. I love butterflies and would grow mulberry trees just for them if I could. No space for them here. Planted butterfly bushes but all I got was bees and yellow jackets. ;( Great photos of them.

  19. How magical! You are doing a good thing, giving these special butterflies a place to land, feed and multiply. And you describe them so poetically, just beautiful.

  20. Isn’t it exciting? The Monarchs come to our mulberries as well and rest upon the branches. Sometimes, I don’t know they are there until they flit off a leaf. Their numbers have definitely increased this year. I feel hopeful.

  21. This makes me soooo happy to see the Monarchs at the Farmy. Last year Monarchs abounded amd lingered around our backyard and adjacent patch of wilderness, this year there were just a few for a short while. We noted their lack, perhaps because of the dry winter. I always look at Monarchs as an environmental barometer… which means for us, here, something is out of kilter, sadly. Hopefully the Monarchs will return to us next year.

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