Friday, August 19, 2016

Going Beyond the 'Butterfly Effect'

One of things I do these days is cover the Canyon Lake department of the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung newspaper where I live in south Texas! My most recent piece as of this writing was on the beautiful butterfly garden at Tye Preston Memorial Library, which was based to a large extent on a visit there with Susan Bogle, one of its founders ("The Butterfly Effect," August 19, 2016). Unfortunately, the paper was only able to run two of the six photos I submitted, along with their associated cutlines, so I am posting the balance of the material I developed here for people's enjoyment. I am also including color versions of the images they had to run in black-and-white and a direct link to the video I shot of my walk through the garden with Bogle. Above right, a Sulphur butterfly feeds on blue mistflower, a nectar plant especially favored by pollinators. 

Austin sculptor Margie Bivens created “Butterfly Effect,” a massive iron representation of a Texas redbud tree, and it was donated to the library by a member of our community in honor of her mother. Bogle said it is her favorite tree in the garden because it is the one that requires the least water or care. “If watch it from left to right, you can see that its leaves morph into butterflies,” Bogle said. “I have counted the butterflies on it innumerable times and never gotten the same number.”

“It has a lot of things that you might have in any garden,” Bogle said, but creating a butterfly garden meant there were rules they had to follow. “We needed to provide host plants, nectar plants, places for them to hide, places for them to hang their chrysalises. We have grass here, which you’re not going to see in most gardens, but that is where they go when it rains. So, we’re providing habitat and food for these creatures.”

Above left: “Just the idea of a butterfly garden seems to inspire people,” Bogle said. This bench shaped like a butterfly and decorated with pieces of colored glass was created by a local artist for installation in the garden. Above right: TPML’s butterfly garden is on the west side of facility and deliberately situated outside of its largest window. Bogle said she initially expected that it would be a maximum of 20 by 30 feet in size, but its actual footprint is about 90 by 80 — larger than the library’s original building in Sattler! 

“We’ve tried to have a complete habitat” for butterflies and other pollinators, Bogle said. “Someplace place to live, something to eat, something to drink. You need to have nectar plants to attract butterflies but what keeps them here is the fact we have so many host plants,” notably milkweed,” which is what they lay their eggs on and the caterpillars live on until they go through their several stages to become butterflies.” Butterfly varieties that can regularly be found in the garden include the Buckeye, Checkered Skipper, Gulf Fritillary, Hairstreak, Monarch, Painted Lady, Queen, Red Admiral, Black Swallowtail, Pipevine Swallowtail, and Sulphur.