November 2015 home page

support us

Del Mar's Community Plan

Cozette’s Castle
Virginia Lawrence | Caminito Del Rocio

Cozette in her Castle.   Photo Virginia Lawrence
Click onimage to enlarge.

Born in Utah, named for Victor Hugo’s Cosette in Les Misérables, Cozette Shirts reigns over a “castle” on Avenida Primavera. This castle – as the Shirts have always called it - is a seven-foot-high screened enclosure built by her late husband, Garry, when it became clear that Cozette’s flutters of butterflies had become prey to the neighborhood cats, and their own. Nowadays, when a caterpillar is ready to unfurl its wings, Cozette carries it to the castle for the metamorphosis. Unfortunately, Monarchs are less prevalent in Del Mar this summer, she comments, maybe due to the heat. Her son’s garden in (cooler) Point Loma is full of them right now.

Monarch Factoids

How high do Monarchs fly? 11,000 feet
How far can they fly in a day? 250 miles
What is their wing span? 3.5 to 4 inches
How many migrate to Mexico for the winter?
6 million to 1 billion

According to Cozette, it was just “dumb luck” that the family ended up on Primavera in the early seventies. Cozette, for whom gardening is akin to meditation, transformed the yard into an “English” garden – an organized tangle of native plants with none of a French garden’s tidy geometry. At first, the butterflies did not attract her particular attention. But since the mid-nineties they have become a major hobby, and she chooses her plants with them in mind. Among the plants so chosen stands milkweed, an essential for Monarchs. In her yard, the Monarchs’ preferred variety, she confides, is “hairy balls.”

Every summer four successive generations of butterflies make their home in this cozy garden. A butterfly’s life cycle - from egg to eternity - lasts between two weeks and eight months. The first generation, born en route from Mexico, arrives each spring, lays its eggs, and dies. The second and third generations, born in the summer, flourish for just two to six weeks before they lay their eggs and die. Only the fourth generation, born at the end of summer, escapes the cycle. Instead of dying, this hardy bunch heads back to Mexico for the winter.

But sometime in late winter Del Mar beckons. As Winter morphs into Spring the wintering fourth generation heads north, laying its eggs and dying en route, while the newly born “first” generation sets its compass for Primavera.

Butterflies like pizza

“Butterflies like pizza, hummingbirds like ice cream cones.” The pizza refers to flat flowers, and the ice cream cones refer to nectar flowers with a V shape.

Host Plants: A host plant is what they lay their eggs on --- they do this so when they hatch there will be food for their young. Monarchs only lay eggs on Milkweed. There are several species, the one I use the most is “Asclepias Cusassavica,” also I have “Hairy Balls --- Gomphocarpus Physocarpus.”
Nectar Plants: Monarchs need to have nectar. A variety of flowers provide that. Lantana, Butterfly Bush (Buddlei), Mexican sunflower, Duranta “Sweet Memories”---especially good in my yard.

Swallowtail Butterflies:
Host Plants: Parsley, dill, fennel (I have good luck with fennel), carrot, Queen Anne’s lace. I’m sure there are others --- these are the ones I use.
Nectar Plants: Butterfly Bush “Buddlei,” phlox, thistle, honeysuckle, Duranta “Sweet Memories.”

Source: Cozette Shirts



© 2007-2015 Del Mar Community Alliance, Inc.  All rights reserved.