Butterflies - the dancelike movement of these delicate creatures is captivating. And the Botanical Conservatory offers visitors the perfect opportunity to get up close to the winged action during their display, "The Pollinators' Garden," which will take place April 11 - July 5.
This will be the 13th annual live butterfly display hosted by the Botanical Conservatory, and it promises to be good. The focus of the display, while emphasizing the role butterflies have in the natural processes of plant life, will also include information on other plant pollinators, like bats and beetles.
For visitors who are new to the display, here's a walkthrough of how the display was last year. (Note: visiting the exhibit on Mother's Day is a delightful way to celebrate the day, but you may have to wait in line to get to see the butterflies!)
There will be a large white tent set up in the first main plant display room of the Conservatory. It is made of white netting, and sand and bricks are propped up around the bottom edge of the tent. It's a little odd, but some butterflies do crawl!
Visitors are asked to wait outside the tent, then are carefully admitted through the first swinging screen door. A docent gives a brief talk about insect safety, and asks guests to not touch the butterflies. Then, a second door is opened and the visitors are let into the butterfly room.
It's like a different world. The white tent is airy, spacious - and butterflies are everywhere. And some are so large! Last year, some of the specimens looked to be at least four inches across! In the center of the display is a flower bed, with tall saucers of butterfly nectar, bunches of vibrant impatiens and yellow hibiscus, which provide plenty of landing spots.
Visitors are welcome to simply stand and watch. Butterflies land on the nectar poufs and flutter through the air. Sometimes, they like to land on the tent walls and, very occasionally, they land on the visitors! Be prepared to see people with cameras poised, just waiting for the perfect moment when a flash of color spreads its wings and poses.
All too soon, on a busy day, another docent asks guests to leave, so more visitors can see and experience the exhibit. Fans are set up in the airlock exit, so that if a butterfly is trying to hitch hike out of the display, it will be encouraged to fly back into the tent. The docent is also good at checking through strollers and handbags, just in case a bug decided to take a piggyback ride.
On Mother's Day last year, a very special addition to the day was the gift of a free petunia to each and every mother and grandmother who visited. The live plants were on display close to the butterfly exhibit, and several volunteers were ready to help you choose the right live plant and pop it into a tiny little flower pot. The petunias smelled lovely - and they grew well, once you got them home and into a larger container.
If you're looking for a great spring activity to explore the natural world, or you want to find something special to do around Easter or Mother's Day, you can visit the Botanical Conservatory. The bugs are great!
Hours: Tues - Sat 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Thurs 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Sun 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Admission to the Pollinator's Garden is $5 for adults, $3 for children 3 - 17, and free for children 2 and under.
This exhibit is breathtaking every year--bring your family to learn about butterflies, honeybees, beetles, bats, and flies who assist plants in seed production!