Thursday, August 2, 2007
Butterflies Visit Westside
From the moment we began preparing to plant the butterfly garden in front of the Tony Aguirre Community Center a small white butterfly came to observe our actions. With great curiosity the butterfly inspected each plant waiting their turn to be planted in the garden and hovered over those installing the plants into the ground.
The goal of the Butterfly Garden is to become a registered Monarch Butterfly Waystation. So much of the Monarch’s habitat has been destroyed and they are endangered. The Westside is situated on the path of one of the monarch’s flyways but over the years the number of monarchs gracing the neighborhood has declined. The garden is to help bring them back. We will be registering with Monarch Watch a program of Kansas University. (www.monarchwatch.org) Then we hope to be able to assist with tagging the butterflies and providing data to the University program; hopefully with the help of neighborhood 5th grade science students.
Volunteers planted close to 100 plantings on beautiful June day. Some plants have not survived and others have thrived. Butterflies of yellow and blue and white have overseen the growth of the garden. Cathy, who works at the Aguirre Center, has taken on the responsibility of seeing the plants are watered. One of the community service workers who has been helping her went out and purchased some plant food.
I have been going to the garden on Sunday mornings to weed so that natural vegetation doesn’t choke out our purchased plants. I am being supervised by white, yellow and blue butterflies, ladybugs and a host of curious insects. It’s cool in the mornings and I get to greet the many neighbors who are walking, alone or with pets or with friends, neighbors who are jogging, bicyclists touring the neighborhood and last Sunday, many of our Japanese visitors from one of Kansas City’s Sister Cities.
Neighborhood children have kept our librarian, Julie Robinson apprised of butterfly activity in the garden. When they see butterflies in the garden they are quick to tell Julie of their sightings.
Wednesday, (August 1st, 2007) after our Walking on Wednesday group dispersed I went to check on the garden, where, I couldn’t believe my eyes, there was a Monarch butterfly approaching the garden. If butterflies can do a double take, then that is what it appeared that this butterfly did – a double take. He (I’m assuming it was a he) went from plant to plant to plant, visiting every butterfly bush, every cone flower and when he got to the flowering milkweed, he seemed to leap for joy and sat on each and every flower head. And then he started all over again, visiting each and every plant. Soon, there appeared another Monarch. Monarch #1 rushed over to Monarch #2 as if to say “Can you believe this great diner?” The two of them then visited each and every flower stopping now and again to twirl together as if in joy at finding such a great place to eat. They then started chasing each other and playing kamikaze – so maybe there was some courting going on. I’m not versed on butterfly behavior but it sure looked like romance to me.
We’re saving up money and salvaging wood to make a small fence to protect the area now marked off with stakes and string. We’re also in the process of making a giant butterfly that will be signage for the garden – we need someone to paint it to look like a Monarch butterfly and paint the text. If you would like to help with the fencing, your donation is tax deductible.
We’re already talking about plants to add to the garden next year. In the fall we’ll add some soil amendments and mulch our plants; to prepare for next spring.
We hope that if you are visiting the Ruiz Branch Library , the Tony Aguirre Community Center or enjoying the Westside leg of the Riverfront Heritage Trail you will take a moment to enjoy our garden and look for butterflies.
Butterfly Garden Patrons:
Gordon Boeham, Bon Ami/Faultless Starch Co., Riverfront Heritage Trails, Inc., Michelle Lambson, Ezekiel Amador III, Barbara Bailey, Julie Robinson, KCMO Parks & Recreation, Hermes Landscaping, Sharon & Dempsey Gottschalk, Cathy Blakesly, Kelly Vanendaele, Kent Yocum, Kathy Kirby, Westside CAN Center, and several anonymous plant donors, Guier Fence Co. for salvaged fencing.