Nature center to show how to build a butterfly garden

Abbey Whittington, Entertainment Editor

People can learn how to create their own butterfly gardens by using plants native to Illinois between 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday in the Douglas-Hart Nature Center.

To attend, members can pay a fee of $12 and non-members can pay a fee of $15.

Jennifer Tariq, the education director for the Douglas-Hart Nature Center, and Marissa Grant, the botanist and land steward director, will teach the program.

Grant said there has recently been a decline in the amount of pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

“The idea behind the program is for people to realize that one plant can help,” Grant said. “It will attract pollinators and attract a larger butterfly population.”

Tariq and Grant will talk about 50 native plants in Illinois, and inform participants of their characteristics and how these plants can fit into different gardens.

Some native plants that can be incorporated in the butterfly gardens are purple coneflowers, milkweeds, royal catchflies, aster, gentian, wild bergamots and blazing stars.

“Most people think that because we live in Illinois we only have weeds,” Grant said. “The plants we talk about are very colorful and look fun in a landscape.”

The center has had other gardening programs, but this is the first time they will be incorporating butterflies into their presentation.

Grant said during the presentation she will be pushing for people to use milkweeds in their gardens, because the milkweed is a host plant that can help caterpillars develop into a butterfly.

During the presentation people can bring a photo of their gardens to use as a blueprint for designing their own butterfly garden.

Grant and Tariq will talk about plants that can be used in the butterfly garden, and how different kinds of plants can fit based on the location of the plants, the amount of caretaking, the color and their size.

“I think people will be surprised at how many options there are for their garden,” Grant said. “Since the plants are native they can understand Illinois’ crazy weather and support the wildlife here.”

Grant said it is also important that the plants in the garden are planted now and last through the fall when the monarch butterflies migrate.

During the butterflies’ migration, the center conducts an activity where they tag the monarchs.

After the presentation, those who attended will be given samples of the plant that they liked and have the option to purchase more.

Those interested can register online with the Academy of Lifelong Learning, who co-host the event.


Abbey Whittington can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].