Thursday, May 19, 2011

Butterfly Homes and Gardens

After Crane Meadows Nature Center unveiled its new facility around 2003, staff and volunteers -- including the Family Campers and RVers (FCRV) -- planted a butterfly garden. The garden was designed to provide food sources (i.e. leaves and stems) desirable to butterfly larvae, while adults would probe flowers for nectar.

Sadly, between that time and the nature center's reopening and renaming in 2009, the garden had gone largely to weeds, with only a scattering of survivors remaining from the previous planting. Clearly, the garden was in a need of a renovation.

Butterfly garden before renovation. Weeds, particularly
smooth brome, had largely overtaken the area.

Sandy and Ken Kendall of FCRV informed me of a grant opportunity for wildlife, and encouraged me to apply. As the butterfly garden replanting seemed a perfect fit for the grant, I applied and, with Sandy and Ken's help, received $700.00 for new plants.

The nature center organized a garden committee in part to redesign the garden. After research, native prairie plants beneficial to butterflies were chosen and ordered from Bluebird Nursery in Clarkson, NE. Most of the existing garden was sprayed with Roundup, saving as many surviving desirable plants as possible.

By planting day on May 14, everything was in place: plants, mulch, and volunteers from FCRV and the garden committee. In three hours, the garden was in place, with new plants firmly tucked into new homes. Looks great!

FRCV volunteers comprised most of the planters on
a chilly, breezy May afternoon

Dr. Will Locke loves to garden

Special thanks go out to all the wonderful volunteers at FCRV for making this project happen, and to the nature center's garden committee for the planning and help. I can't wait to watch the butterflies show up as the plants grow and thrive. Here's hoping a few monarchs find it passing through this fall!

The friendly and helpful folks who volunteered
most of a Saturday afternoon to plant. Thank you!

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