September 8, 2013 12:26:48 AM
They float, they flutter, they drift, and sometimes they just ride the wind. Butterflies of all shapes, sizes and colors can usually be seen in Mississippi during this month. Creating a garden space to attract these butterflies can be easy if you do a few things right.
The local Master Gardener Volunteer group decided to install a butterfly garden to use as a demonstration space for the public. In the spring of 2012, the group installed a 4,000-square-foot garden with a variety of shrubs, trees and perennial flowers. Group member Lucy Harpole came up with the idea for the garden and was the lead designer for the project.
Lucy also utilized the help of Dianne Patterson of Columbus. Dianne is known by many in the area as a leading authority in all things butterflies. With the help of Lucy, Diane and about 20 master gardeners the project was successfully installed.
Installing the garden
The first thing was to select a location that received full sun. Lucy picked a spot right off the Riverwalk in Columbus, by the turn that leads to Reuben's Fish and Steakhouse. We then removed the vegetation in the area so we could more easily maintain the space. Beds were tilled and amended with over 150 bags of collected leaves. Our group spent most of the winter collecting those.
All types of plants were then installed and covered with pine straw. This leant itself to a more natural look. The walkways were covered with mulch for the first summer and then converted to pea gravel for 2013. The gravel was a more permanent solution and was easier and safer to walk on. Dave Deacon brought his small tractor out to help us spread the gravel. What a lifesaver!
Master Gardener members have taken turns the last two summers with watering to keep the plants alive. We have also received help from the city's downtown maintenance crew. With all of the different types of plants growing in the garden, most all stages of the butterfly life cycle can be observed. If you walk through the garden you can see Black and Tiger Swallowtails, Monarchs, Sulfurs, Gulf Fritillaries, Buckeyes and other butterflies.
The garden has turned out to be a beautiful space that is being enjoyed by everyone.
Free tours Saturday
We would like to invite you to come and learn all about butterfly gardening on Saturday, Sept. 14 between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. This is a free event and we will be giving tours and answering any gardening questions you may have. Please come and join us and bring a friend. We look forward to seeing you this Saturday.