One of our goals at the Robert L. Bowles Nature Centre is to help save endangered species.
What better way to assist than to build a butterfly garden, also known as a pollinator garden, for butterflies and bees?
These beautiful creatures flit and flutter, visiting flowering plants and transferring pollen from one plant to another so that those plants can produce seeds and fruit. Butterflies play a very important role in the ecosystem.
Michael's creativeness sparkled as he chose the new location for the garden, tilled and prepared the earth, leaving a walking path leading to a small circle in the middle of the garden. This allows for easy viewing of the blooms and the butterflies fluttering freely. The location requires full sun as butterflies need a lot of sunshine to regulate their body temperatures. The sunshine also supplies them with the energy they need to fly and forage for food.
Bob was invaluable in suggesting the various plants for attracting butterflies. These flowering plants need to bloom from April through to October. Butterflies are considered to have the widest visual range of any form of wildlife, so it's important to have continuous colours of pink, red, yellow, purple and orange. As one plant stops flowering, another plant starts to flower, ensuring a longer season. Bob suggested 10 to 12 varieties of native plants ranging from Wild Bergamont (Monarda fistulosa) to Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) to Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) to Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis). This is just a small sampling of native plants. There are more than 100 perennial plant species, trees, shrubs, herbs and berries that will potentially attract butterflies.
Throughout the nature centre we have common milkweed growing in abundance. As most of you know already, the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), a species at risk, lays its eggs on the milkweed leaf. So not only is it important to have colourful plants, but it's also necessary to ensure the adults have a place to lay the eggs, thus supporting them throughout their entire lifecycle.
We have now planted 12 varieties of flowering plants, 3 different types of grass and a few shrubs. Like many things, the garden will take a couple of years to develop. We look forward to the garden teeming each year with beautifully coloured caterpillars and stunning butterflies.
Join us for our upcoming workshop on Tuesday, July 20th, 2021, Pollinators and Native Plants with a focus on butterflies.
Here is the link for more information, and to register:
Pollinators and Native Plants | Bowles Nature Centre (robertlbowlesnaturecentre.com)
Photos, from top: Common milkweed with two caterpillars; the pollinator garden; black-eyed susans.
Blog and photos courtesy of June Crinnion
Robert L. Bowles Nature Centre, founded by June Crinnion and Michael Elmer, is a nature and wellness centre in Ramara, named after Lake Simcoe Living Nature Detective Bob Bowles to honour his role in protecting and caring for the environment. For more information, go to https://www.robertlbowlesnaturecentre.com/