We are Pete Espinosa-Michel and Sandi Douglas-Michel, sole proprietors of
Douglas-Michel Butterfly Plants since 1999. This is a home-based nursery that is dedicated to providing quality plants that attract butterflies; and to educating the public about the challenges presented in preserving the environment for butterflies.
We have not always known about butterflies. In 1991 we moved to Aromas, California, from Silicon Valley. My wife, Sandi Douglas, who retired in 2011 worked as a social worker for the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara, and having a place in the country was a good way to unwind from the stresses of working in Silicon Valley. Sandi's passion is gardening and anything associated with plants.
I, on the other hand, did not have much of an interest in plants, but I liked being outdoors and working the land with my tractor. I worked at San Jose State University for 24 years, and at Cal State Monterey Bay where I spent 3 months helping them set up their student recruitment and admissions offices. After a rough day at the office, it was always a pleasure to come home and be able to work with my hands.
After living here, however, we noticed that we hardly ever saw any birds or butterflies. Since both of us were working full time in San Jose and commuting we did not have much time to spend time working the land. We basically had the 3.5 acres mowed each year and the land mostly lay fallow. Then around 1994, both of us were at a conference at Asilomar near Pacific Grove, Ca and we discovered the monarch butterfly. While waiting for Sandi I noticed a brochure about monarch butterflies at the gift shop and we decided to go Washington Park to see the butterflies before going to dinner. We were captivated by the butterflies and this remained with us for some time. A week later we attended a guided tour at the main sanctuary where we learned about the lack of milkweed for the monarchs. We got the idea of converting the property into a milkweed oasis for the butterfly. Coincidentally, one Sandi's co-workers had a passion for butterflies and her passion was infectious. We soon were seeking out other overwintering sites such as Pismo Beach and of course, Natural Bridges State Park. I signed up to be a docent at Natural Bridges and we were hooked.
In 1997 we took a class from The Butterfly Conservancy on raising butterflies, so that we could become more knowledgeable about these wonderful creatures. We then decided that our best contribution was to convert our property to milkweed so that we could directly assist the monarchs. In 1998 I retired from San Jose State and we began Douglas-Michel Butterfly Plants, with the idea of combining Sandi's knowledge and passion for plants, and Pete's desire to provide a safe haven for butterflies into a business selling plants that attract butterflies.
Sandi Douglas and Pete Espinosa-Michel, Owner/Operators
P.O. Box 581
Aromas, California 95004-0581