Above is a butterfly garden a group of people planted at my school. The garden was originally installed around 2014. It had been neglected for a while (see photo to the right). One of our dear friends, Annette Dietz, passed away unexpectedly and her parents wanted to dedicate a bench at the school in her honor. They wanted it placed here because it overlooks the school’s playground.
There was to be a dedication ceremony so, of course, it was decided we needed to get that butterfly garden back to its original glory...and we had to do it quickly. The garden was really a mess. It was less a garden and more a clump of land with a tree in the middle.
Work began swiftly. We added weed barrier and mulch then planted some new lantana, salvia, milkweed and a couple of planters with agapanthus. all that was left was to weed the finished edge of the space.
A beautiful dedication ceremony was held with family, friends, and coworkers of Annette in attendance. I pass by that bench every day as I walk to my car. I think about Annette and her love of children. I imagine her watching over the students as they play on our playground and explore the monarch caterpillars in the garden.
We are all so pleased with this green space. The plants have taken off and are thriving. Monarch butterflies have found their way to the milkweed and have begun laying so many eggs; more eggs than ever before! The eggs hatch into caterpillars with voracious appetites. We have had many “milkweed emergencies “ where we have gone on scrambles to find food for the caterpillars because they had eaten all of milkweed in the garden. The students and staff at the school have delightfully searched for the well-camouflaged chrysalises. We rarely get to witness the emergence of the butterflies but are always amazed to find the empty chrysalis which means there are new monarchs flying around.
All in all, the butterfly garden and Annette’s bench gives us lots of happiness. The chaste tree gives us beautiful blooms each year and the small plants provide a habitat for lots of insects.
How many monarch caterpillars can you find? There are quite a few. Aren’t they masters of camouflage?!
**Some anonymous philanthropic group surprised schools in the district by laying this red mulch in their garden areas. It was a very kind gesture.
Psst: Want to know a secret? I hate that red mulch! I’m going to change it back to black as soon as I can. 🤫
Butterfly Garden Update
April 2, 2021
My friend an I were able to give the garden a quick refresh by adding some new milkweed i had at home and trimming down the dead lantana branches. I added six bags of black mulch as well. It’s looking good, but I’ll need more to give the garden a nice, finished look.
New lantana is sprouting so it looks like we will have some nice flowers at some point. There are lots of new leaves on the existing milkweed. That’s always good to see. I bought a mixture of butterfly nectar plants and have them as seedlings at home. If I can keep them alive, I’ll transplant them into the butterfly garden.