the show

Bicycling with Butterflies

air date: October 7, 2023

In their first backyard, a young couple creates a drought-tough cottage garden and wildlife habitat. Sara Dykman, author of Bicycling with Butterflies, chronicles the monarch butterfly migration to Canada and back to illustrate how three countries unite as wildlife stewards. Get pro tips for amending and planting in dense clay soil with designer Leah Churner.


Episode Segments

On Tour

Blank Backyard to Southwest Cottage Habitat

A fence and lawn: that’s what faced thrifty first-time gardeners Ashley Nava-Monteros and Carlos Monteros at their new house. Now, art and plants honor cultural history and support wildlife with native and adapted plantings that thrive on clay soil. Carlos loves succulents and shows how to propagate a prickly pear cactus and make nopalitos from its pads (nopales) for the kitchen.

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Bicycling With Butterflies: 10,201 Miles with Monarchs

Monarch butterflies leaving Mexico in spring are not the same ones that return in fall, or even the ones that we’ll see. To chronicle the multigenerational journey to Canada and back, Sara Dykman pumped the pedals on a cobbled together bicycle to tell their story—and of all wildlife—that’s losing habitat. Her trek illustrates how three countries connect as stewards to help endangered wildlife. 

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Backyard Basics

Improving Clay Soil: Leah Churner

What’s the trick to amend dense clay soil? Landscape designer Leah Churner explains how compost, leaf mold and mulch—including sheet mulching over months—improves soil tilth and aeration, making it easier for plant roots to grow. Plant selection matters, too, since many plants do just fine, but others will never work. 

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