I've seen butterflies flitting through my garden now and then over the last several weeks but the butterflies featured in this post weren't photographed in my garden; they're residents of the new butterfly pavilion at South Coast Botanic Garden (SCBG) six miles away. I visited it for the first time earlier this week after making a reservation a couple of weeks ago.
I neglected to take a photo of the pavilion structure from the outside but I photographed the exterior area, planted up to attract butterflies. Those of you who've read prior posts on my visits to SCBG may be familiar with the raised beds, which were formerly planted with dahlias.
|I almost managed to get these photos of the two sides of the garden area lined up!|
|The plants used throughout the raised beds included Achillea, Calendula, Dianthus, Gaillardia, and, regrettably, tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica). You can read the Xerces Society's opinion on tropical milkweek here. The SCBG volunteer I spoke with told me that it was used mainly because it was readily available in the period prior to the pavilion's opening. They're discussing it with visitors as a "teachable moment." Nevertheless, I hope they'll replace it with native milkweed when those plants become more available.|
|This display outside the pavilion shows the pupae of a variety of caterpillars on their way to transforming into butterflies|
The interior of the pavilion is filled with plants to attract butterflies too. Some of the plant choices surprised me but SCBG worked with Spineless Wonders, a company specializing in creating butterfly houses, which I assume advised them on which plants would serve the needs of the butterflies.
|View from the entrance area looking toward the exit: I was surprised to see Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire' included in the planting scheme but, according to online sources, the plant's insignificant flowers are attractive to butterflies|
|Two of the plants shown in this photograph, Calliandra haematocephala and Phlomis fruticosa, featured prominently in the planting scheme|
|Gaillardia (aka blanket flower) and Cyperus papyrus were also used extensively. I couldn't find much of anything on the association between Papyrus and butterflies other than one statement that adult butterflies are attracted to it.|
My reservation was early in the day and the weather was cool and damp so the butterflies weren't very active. A new supply of tropical butterflies had just arrived to succeed the painted ladies (Vanessa cardui) that have occupied the pavilion since it opened on April 1st so the new butterflies were probably still settling in. The volunteers that staff the pavilion were just becoming acquainted with the new arrivals. I used the common names they provided to me, the names posted on the pupae exhibit, and online searches to identify those I photographed but I can't guarantee my accuracy.
|Many of the butterflies were resting with their wings folded, hiding the more colorful side of their wings, presumably to conserve energy. This is the giant owl butterfly (Caligo telemonius atreus).|
|This is the giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes), which is common in North America|
There were signs to provide information and guide visitors as they explored the pavilion and the connected area. I photographed only a few.
The exhibit runs through the end of July. New butterflies will be added in stages.
Best wishes for a wonderful weekend.
All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party