Garden Photo of the Day

Food for Pollinators and People

A Michigan gardener makes her peace with an upcoming move

Today we’re visiting Ankica Zander’s garden in Michigan.

My husband and I moved into this cottage some 10 years ago. The cottage had been in his family for just under a century. We remodeled it to our liking and started planting all kinds of gardens. The idea was to be self-sufficient but also to create a wildlife refuge to some extent. For that reason, I love plants other people consider weeds, such as wild raspberry, wild phlox, and mint—anything I know that birds, bees, and butterflies love. I raise butterflies, and I have a bed of milkweed for the monarchs, a bed of dill for the swallowtails, etc.

All my gardens are always works in progress; they are never done. I let the flowers reseed and grow wherever they like it best. My idea was to expand my gardens to every corner of our property.

Unfortunately, our town approved a concrete crashing facility right across the street, which means that we get clouds of dust. My gardens suffer a lot, and so do we. My heart was overwhelmed with anger for a long time.

Now I accept that we have to move, that we have no other choice. I hope I can move every single plant to our new home and make even more beautiful gardens. Instead of being angry, now I look forward to it.

Spring in the garden! An explosion of color from bulbs and other early bloomers.

A big mass of crocuses in bloom—looks like Crocus tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant’ (Zones 3–8)

Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca, Zones 3–9) is great for feeding monarch butterfly caterpillars. But be warned that this species spreads aggressively. This is the right site for it, where it can be controlled by mowing the turf around it.

And for adult butterflies and moths, there are abundant flowers full of nectar for them to feed on.

Here’s the payoff for making the garden a great habitat for insects!

And how about these moths? They’re stunningly beautiful.

The egret flower (Habaenaria radiata, Zones 5–8) is an astonishingly hardy orchid, with intricate blooms that look like birds.

The garden provides food for humans as well as for butterflies.

Look at those perfect rows of vegetables! It is a work of art.

A colorful harvest of onions.


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View Comments


  1. nwphillygardener 02/12/2019

    Thanks for sharing your photos. I am quite sure your energies in a new place will give you another splendid garden to support yourselves and wildlife. Let's hope that much of what you have planted continues to bloom, and maybe some of your Asclepias will blow around to nurture the butterflies once you stop mowing that turf.

  2. LauraJaneS 02/12/2019

    Hats off to you! What a lot of work you must put in to maintaining this lovely garden. How rewarding to look forward to the butterflies, flowers and your own veggies. So sorry to hear about your sad situation with the concrete crashing facility - I've never heard of that and will Google it now. Good luck :)

  3. Chellemp 02/12/2019

    My heart breaks for you and the necessity of the move, but I fully support you. Your garden is beautiful and you will be an asset to any community you land in.

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 02/12/2019

    I am so very sorry that a literal cloud of unpleasantness for your plants and your peace of mind has moved in across the street. It's totally understandable that the concrete crushing plant is a deal breaker for you continuing to live there. I'm sure you've learned a tremendous amount about plants over the past 10 years and will take all that knowledge and as many plants as possible to your new property. Best of luck.

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 02/12/2019

    Your garden is amazing! I understand the pain that is caused when your haven is disrupted by business. Best of luck in your new place.

  6. user-6841468 02/12/2019

    Wow, that's terrible. It seems as if you could get the state to investigate the concrete crushing facility as that must be creating a health issue that needs to be rectified. This is a family homestead and deserves to be preserved.

    You have beautiful gardens, and I hope yours in the future are as productive.

  7. User avater
    simplesue 02/12/2019

    I feel outraged that city/town governments have so little consideration for the residents, and cater to big business.
    You have been done a great injustice having that incompatible industry allowed next to a residential area.
    I too have dug up every plant I could rescue as we too fled a neighborhood that was not protected from the noisy university expanding...nothing compared to a concrete crushing plant. I too have started my garden over....I know how it feels. I loved the photos you shared, what a paradise it was. Hope you share your photos of your new garden on Fine Gardening, here.

  8. paiya 02/12/2019

    I share your pain and anger at the intrusion of the concrete business into your residential area. I too think that you should protest it. Your gardens are both beautiful and practical , and sustain life. It is sad that you have to uproot your lives and plants.

  9. btucker9675 02/12/2019

    It breaks my heart that your beautiful gardens and the creatures that have been sustained by them will be gone! God bless you in your new home and may your new gardens be just as lovely.

  10. btucker9675 02/12/2019

    Too bad your town didn't think to make the facility use a dust reduction system:

    Wouldn't have stopped the noise, but at least the dust wouldn't have damaged the surrounding areas!

  11. grannieannie1 02/12/2019

    What beautiful plants and well-tended gardens. And what a lot of work and thought you've put into building a habitat. I wish you well in your move. I know it is hard pulling up roots, but your determination will carry you through. Thank you for sharing your ideas which helps spread them.

  12. cheryl_c 02/13/2019

    I'm just ornery enough to believe that your gardens will have seeded themselves into the 'seed bank' of the area, and will persist as little islands of beauty in the face of industry. Take heart! Best wishes.

  13. bdowen 02/13/2019

    What a spectacular garden you have created- and documented with your beautiful photos. And then, the heartbreaking news that your family's 100 year old roots in the land are being pushed out by concrete dust. I wish you patience, energy and lots of friends to help you transplant your garden to its new home.

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