Walappu’ ‘Uuchuthuu (Butterfly Home Place)

Logo for the Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation – First people of Mariposa County

Although I am Native (Yoeme/Yaqui) from my mother’s people, I am not Southern Sierra Miwuk. As I mentioned in one of my first posts, I live on the traditional and contemporary lands of the Southern Sierra Miwuk people. Because of this, I feel a responsibility to ensure that what I do reflects at least some of their culture. My sister married into the Central Sierra Me-Wuk, who are their cousins to the north, and I have a Me-Wuk niece. To support her and fulfill my sense of responsibility, I volunteer with the Tribal Council, go to Council meetings and participate in events. When I decided to make this habitat project larger and write for grants, I knew I had to name the project in the Miwuk language. I had studied the it years ago, but it was in my niece’s Central Sierra Me-Wuk dialect. This place needed to be named in the local language. The words can be similar, but they are not exact. Although, in the past year, I had spoken to several elders and other members for guidance, I asked the Council for official permission to use the language and help deciding on a name. It was an honor to present this project to them, and I appreciated that they approved its support by acclamation. I worked with a subcommittee of the Language Committee, Frannie Gann, Millie Davis and Tony Cabazut to find a name. Butterfly Home Place was chosen. It reflected the intent to bring the monarchs home and the creation of habitat that would support all of their home-making needs. Thank you to the Council, the subcommittee and the entire membership for the support. The Southern Sierra Miwuk are also fighting for Federal Acknowledgement of the treaties they signed in the 1800s to access the benefits promised to them. To learn more about the Tribe and/or to support their fight for Federal Acknowledgement, visit their website.

Heather with her darling niece in 2019

Walappu’ ‘Uuchuthuu Status

I added a “Lessons Learned” page to capture some of the key items I am learning. Check it out, and let me know if you think this will be helpful.

Gophers have eaten 4 of the 5 milkweed plants that came back from last year in the North Plot. The only one left is the one showy milkweed. I am hoping that the plants will re-sprout by September. I am continuing to water them. Also, I am not despondent like I was last year. Experience has taught me that something will come back, and so I just go the flow of nature.

Romneya blooms
Narrowleaf blooms. These will turn white shortly.

We have blooms! A couple of the plants are grown enough to have blooms (see images above). Several more are growing really well, and I am hopeful for blooms from them. The primrose (picture below) is very happy where it is and has been growing really well.

Happy primrose

We are practicing adaptive management. This means that we change course, or pivot, as we see something not working. This requires daily observational data gathering. For example, I noticed the carpenteria was not doing well. It was droopy with yellow leaves. In houseplants, that can mean over watering. But, I had been following the watering protocol closely. I took a photo and sent it to Ron, my native plant hook up and UC Master gardener contact, to ask for his advice. He told me that yellow leaves in native plants are often a sign that the plant needs more water. He also shared that the plant could be getting too much sun. Again, the climate is changing. Plants that, in the past, traditionally could take full sun, seem to do better with partial shade. Instead of disturbing the roots by replanting her, Ron recommended installing shade and providing mulch at the base. I grabbed some bark from a downed oak branch near the house, broke it up and made local mulch. I then took a tomato cage and bungeed shade cloth to it. I installed it to the west of the plant. The wind kept knocking it over, so I left it horizontal, reinstalled the shade cloth, and found it works better. I’ve been watering the carpenteria twice a week. With all the adaptations, she seems happier.

The carpenteria after some modifications (hack job!)

Something else I have observed is that my butterfly plants that have other volunteer plants growing right next to them appear to escape the notice of the creature that has been snipping them. What I have adapted is that I no longer pull the volunteers/weeds away from my butterfly plants – unless they are clearly preventing the health of my butterfly plant. If there is no issue, I let them help each other.

Pigweed growing adjacent to an aster
Woolly Pod milkweed growing peacefully with pigweed and another common plant that the bees love

I started more marigold seeds several weeks apart. The seedlings are growing. I am hoping they will not get burned up, or whatever happened to the first batch, now that they are in 1 gallon containers and in the northeast section of the patio instead of the southeast. It also appears that a bird took a seed and dropped it in my other planter. We actually have a bloom! Maybe I should just sew a bunch into the ground and see what happens. I did not do this initially because of the gophers. We will see what happens to this little one.

New marigold sprouts next to the old
Surprise Mexican marigold

Overall, the days continue to go by quickly. It is not uncommon that Monday turns into Thursday given the routine and rhythm of each day. My husband and I joke when we wake up each morning that it is “Groundhog Day” – a reference to the Bill Murry movie where he is trapped in a time loop, and it is the same day each day. Covid has slowed our days, which are no longer marked on a regular basis with unique engagements, experiences or other appointments. We are learning a lot from this time. I do appreciate the slowing of my life. I have noticed more all around me – both in nature and in human nature. Not all of it is pretty, but the lessons are useful.

One thought on “Walappu’ ‘Uuchuthuu (Butterfly Home Place)”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: