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October 27, 2011

Vicki Batman on Lavender Dreams and her story, "Taking Flight"

The Traveling Monarchs

These past weeks, I have had a thrilling sight outside my kitchen window--monarchs are visiting on their way to their home in Mexico.

My family and I moved into this house sixteen years ago. The house needed a huge overhaul which we did a while back. But the yard was unbearable. (Think Teenage Wasteland. LOL.)

I am not the best gardener. I like to put things in the ground, toss some water in its direction, and yank out the weeds on occasion. Once, I read a local gardening column about the attributes of lantana. The biggest plus being "you can run a car over it and it still grows."

I was sold.

Here's some information from Wikipedia about Lantana: Lantana is a genus of about 150 species of perennial flowering plants in the verbena family, Verbenaceae. They are native to tropical regions of the Americas and Africa but exist as an introduced species in numerous areas, especially in the Australian-Pacific region. Their common names are shrub verbenas or lantanas.

When I determined I needed this plant at this house, I went to see Molly. She had a whole flower bed full of the pink and yellow variety and said she would gladly give me a piece.

What's not to love about a plant which needs little care? Every year, I trim mine back. And it returns. My area has been under drought conditions. October brought a few relieving showers. Considering all this, my lantana has grown to cover an area eight feet in diameter.

And thus, a haven for the monarchs, and even hummingbirds. Here's some information about monarchs:

There have been all kinds of fluttery visitors this year, but I am partial to the monarchs. I have a very good reason to be, too. Their migration is an integral part of a once-in-a-lifetime story I shared with a friend who passed from cancer a few years ago. Muse It Up Publishing graciously published my story about this day, "Taking Flight," in their cancer anthology, Lavender Dreams. It's a sweet, tender short piece.

Have you had any friendly visitors?

Vicki Batman is rejoicing in the fabulous fall weather by watching butterflies. Find her at: or at: Find Lavender Dreams at:


chris keniston said...

good morning!!

I used to have lantana in the front yard- I agree plant it and forget it about it is my style - it's why I have liriope all over the place!! but no pretty color or butterflies with that.

I love the idea that a fun story helps a great cause!!

I may not have any stories of unexpected visitors but we all know someone affected by cancer.

thanks for writing the story and donating it to this anthology

you rock!

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Thanks, Chris. It's easy to write about someone we love!

)Ou rock too!


Barbara Monajem said...

I don't have any lantana, but my character Ophelia plants it for her customers in Louisiana. I love the ham-and-eggs kind because of the two colors of flowers.

Pamela Stone said...

When we moved here, there were quite a few Lantana plants. It doesn't require much maintenance, except like you, I do cut it back. Problem is that it's out front and my view is to the back of the property. We have a flowerbed of purple flowers, I have no idea what they are, but they attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The coolest thing I've seen this year was a tiny baby hummingbird. Awesome.

Patricia said...

Long story short, Vicki, I had been scared of butterflies ever since I was a little girl. They weirded me out and my mother thought it was ridiculous, locked me out of the house as I stood screaming at the back door. Enough said. It wasn't until just this year that I FINALLY think I'm over my feelings. And what's so odd is that for the first time ever we have this creeping ivy/flower thing on our deck this year and the butterflies love it and they're flitting all over the place and I'm loving it. And they get so engrossed in their flying they come VERY close to you and even touched me on the arm and I'm fine. They're so beautiful. Guess my phobia is gone!

Plotting Princesses said...

Hi, Barbara. Thank you for stopping by. I'm going to look up your plant. I wonder what kind of butterfly?

Hi, Pam. How exciting to see a baby hummingbird. I've never seen one! This summer wasn't the best for them either. ox

Hi, Patricia. Being scared so as a child is terribly frightening. I'm thinking the plant appeared on your deck for a have some friendly visitors and help you. :)

Liz Lipperman said...

I definitely have a black thumb, but when we moved into this house, we paid for landscaping. Best money we ever spent. I have no idea what kind of flowers I have but they're beautiful all year long.

About 2 months ago, I was waterjogging in the pool and I watched probably 1000 or more white ducks/birds fly over head. It was amazing. I think they might have been egrets migrating somewhere. I haven't seen the butterflies yet.

As for Lavender Dreams, I'm all over it.

Kathy Ivan said...

As Chris said, I think all of us in one way or another have been touched by knowing someone with cancer. My mother died of ovarian cancer, so this is a subject near and dear to my heart, and I think having an anthology where the proceeds go for cancer is wonderful.

I've never actually danced or played with the butterflies, but it sounds awesome, I'd love to try that.

But you are talking to the girl with two black thumbs. Everything I plant I've killed. Nothing seems to grow. I may have to try some lantana. Low maintainence--maybe I can't kill it. That would be a first!

Angela Hicks said...

I haven't seen any butterflies so far this year. I have seen a million black birds. We seem to be on the migration path of crows instead of cute butterflies or hummingbirds.
I'm not sure what that says about us but at least its not vultures. Gotta look on the bright side. :)

It's so wonderful that you wrote this story and for such a great cause! I can't wait to read it!

I love flowers. I enjoy seeing them in the yard. About twice a year I'll buy some to plant in the flower beds but I'm not much of a gardener either and especally not when it's 150 degrees outside.
I did notice yesterday that something I planted last year has come back with lots of pretty white flowers. That's always nice!

Have a great day!!

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Liz. My mom always said she had a brown thumb. LOL. But my grandmother--she had a magic touch. She could cut a stem off a plant, get out her special shovel, make a hole, and stick the stem in. It would grow!

I bet the birds were a beautiful sight. Thank you for sharing and being all over my story. oxoxox

Hi, Kathy. I'm so sorry about your mom. Ovarian cancer is a tough one. As many of you know, my handsome had throat cancer. He is now FIVE YEARS STRONG!!!

We could form the brown-black thumb club. But first, try the lantana. We can use a piece off Molly's and Grandmother's method. ox

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Angela. The migration of the crows sounds like the movie, "The Birds." Yikes, was that one scary, but infinitely better than the migration of the vultures. LOLOL

I'm recommending lantana. I may even try Grandmother's method and see if I can grow some babies for friends. I'll keep everyone posted. ox

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Your Dancing with the Butterflies story makes tears come to my eyes every time I hear it.
Especially these days when my dear sweet cousin is battling cancer.

I'm so proud of you, Vicki, for doing this!
What a good cause. I'm gong to order my copy right now.

Big hugs!

Erin said...

Lantana: The Internet is interesting because it brings us together by finding common desires without noticing the quirks that make us different. The description said Lantana was introduced to Australia. It didn't explain that in Australia Lantana is now a weed. It's treated the same as Marajuanna, if it's found on your property you will be fined. --- I should also explain that since it was introduced it produced it's own hi-breed that's poisonous to cattle and spreads everywhere on grazing land. ---- Vicki I think your garden is beautiful, like your writing.

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Kat. I'm so sorry your cousin is undering going the battle. Nowadays, we have better screening and cure rates. I am sending good vibes your and her way.

Thank you for loving my story. Squee!

Hi, Erin. I know! Who would have thought for one man, lantana is a weed. Here a beautiful specimen. Maybe because in my town we get cold snaps and that's why some dies off. I have a hard time getting the ones by the pool to return. But not my pink one.

Thanks for loving my writing. This means the world to me.

Sheila Seabrook said...

A good friend of mine posted a video of the Monarch butterflies on her facebook page. It was amazing to see these delicate creatures balancing on top of the plants in her area.

What a wonderful story, Vicki. Thanks for sharing.

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Sheila. I bet that is a great video! I'd spot the monarchs looking for nectar and head out to just watch...and yes, remember my friend. It's such a special sight.


Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Vicki,
Great post! I love the monarchs too. I've actually killed a lantana plant. Mom bought me one in a hanging pot and I forgot to water it for a week and it died. Which is strange since it's supposed to be drought resistant. :) Looking forward to reading Taking Flight.

Have a great evening!

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Karilyn. You killed one??? LOL
I have trouble with varieties other than the pink and yellow one. And the other varieties have come from a nursery, not my old neighbor.

Thank you so much for thinking of me. I wished to have this story published and now it is.

Go Rangers!!!

Phyllis said...


Such a beautiful story. When you mentioned it at DARA, like you, I choked up. I've had cancer strike my immediate family, so I am grateful to all those who pitch in to help eradicate this disease. Thank you.

I am not a plant person…that is why we hire others to do the lawn, lol. Still, I do enjoy gardens, the butterflies and everything nice.


Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Phyllis. This was a hard story for me to write and in a way, therapy. Afterwards, I thought maybe I could share so others would know what we experienced. Thr monarchs were too numerous. A gift from nature and one I never want to forget.

We can all grow lantana! Try it!!

Angi Morgan said...

I think you have to have flowers of some kind to have more than one occasional butterfly. :-(

Too much shade around my house for flowers (currently). Came in handy during all the summer heat though.


Diane Kelly said...

When I was very young, I lived in Papillion, Nebraska. The high school mascot was the monarchs. Not exactly a tough mascot, huh? But apparently papillion means butterfly in French or something like that. I have lots of lantana in my yard. Easiest plants ever!

Kelly L Lee said...

My 4 year old just learned about Monarchs, and now she points them out to me! This is such a wonderful time of year!