The Museum’s Butterfly Garden was designed to meet the needs of all four life stages of the butterfly (egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and adult) by providing water, shelter, places to lay eggs (host plants), and food (plants and flowers). Butterflies drink nectar, so nectar-rich flowers are important to attracting butterflies. When eggs hatch, the caterpillars eat the foliage of the plant they were laid on, so growing the right type of plants to feed caterpillars is important.
The garden was first planted on March 15, 2004, by Museum Friends and the public, under the direction of University landscape architect Kenn Rapp and senior horticultural assistant Linda Hawkes. In recent years, the garden has been cultivated by master gardener Mary Duff-Silverman and volunteers.
The Butterfly Garden is part of a larger dream to take the Museum’s educational activities outdoors into the landscape around the Ruthven Museums Building. A student project, developed under the direction of adjunct assistant professor David Michener and Museum assistant director for education Kira Berman, created a concept called “Beyond the Museum Walls … Lives a Landscape of Learning,” which envisioned a full circuit of learning spaces around the building.
Over 55 herbaceous perennials are in the garden, including: Burk Juniper, Spicebush, New Jersey Tea, Switch Grass, Joe Pye Weed, Isanti Dogwood, Aster, Coreopsis, Goldenrod, Blazing Star, Butterfly Weed, Coneflower, and Black Eyed Susan. In addition, nine grasses, sedges, and rushes are planted, including Big Bluestem, Purple Love Grass, and Heavy Metal Switch Grass.
Mary Duff-Silverman is always happy to welcome more volunteers. For more information, email Mary at email@example.com.
A draft inventory of plants in the butterfly garden, click here.