Our new Hidden Garden plants are beginning to fill in nicely and some of them have started blooming. This development allows us to begin the next phase of the process–adding butterflies into the garden!
We have had some triumphs and some setbacks in our efforts to establish butterflies in the garden, but we’ve found a process that is working well with Cabbage White butterflies. They are on their second generation in the garden now, so we are hopeful they will soon be self-sustaining. We have also started the process with Painted Ladies and are hoping to see their small blue eggs on their host plants soon.
Because of the success of the Cabbage Whites and the health of the garden plants, we have started guiding school groups through the Hidden Garden. The students are enjoying the process of discovery which is now a part of our butterfly garden experience. Using our magnifying glasses, they search for eggs, caterpillars, and pupae, any of which might be found within the garden (depending on the life cycles of our butterflies).
One of the most important items in the success of the garden is our lighting system. A grant from the Community Catalyst Funds of Foundation for Roanoke Valley has allowed us to update the lighting in the garden. The new lighting is working well, which is clearly demonstrated by the health and beauty of the new plants in the Hidden Garden. That these plants are thriving even during the low natural light of the winter months is the best proof we could want.
In preparation for the next phase, we have added milkweed and passion vine to the garden beds. These plants support the life cycles of the Monarch and Gulf Fritillary butterflies we hope to add this spring.
We are looking forward to our successes and making plans for the challenges that lie ahead. We can’t wait to open the doors and share this new experience with our visitors, but the Hidden Garden must be healthy and thriving before we can welcome regular guests. Bookmark our website, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for our mailing list to see regular updates.
As a reminder: we are offering a butterfly garden rain check with your paid admission throughout the time that the garden is closed for renovations so that you will be able to return and enjoy our new Hidden Garden once it’s open to the public.