The Butterfly Garden at Stony Brook owes much of its success to the Garden Club of Norfolk (GCN), whose members have voluntarily participated in the garden's annual revitalization every year for the last four years. And thanks to a grant the GCN received in April 2016 from the Massachusetts Master Gardener Association, they were able to expand the garden and add more pollinators plants to make it even more attractive to butterflies as well as all beneficial insects.
First planted in the 1990’s, the garden had fallen into disrepair over the next two decades due to budget and staffing constraints. By 2014, it was so overgrown that the path inside the garden was not walkable.
To make matters worse, most of the nectar and host plants that are so vital to butterfly survival were overgrown by aggressive vines and grasses. Some of the more aggressive perennials such as goldenrod and tansy had taken over entire sections.
Visitors to the sanctuary no longer stopped by the garden because they could not navigate through the jungle of vines, branches, nettle, poison ivy, and overgrown plants.
Revitalization & Improvements
When planning for the revitalization work first started in 2014, the Butterfly Garden had been languishing for years.
Stony Brook's Volunteer Coordinator, Jessica Watson, first approached the GCN about helping to revitalize the garden in June 2014. GCN formed a Butterfly Committee to manage the project, led by members Martha Richardson, Stephanie Markham, Emily Nicodemus, and Michelle Noonan. Horticulture consultants for the project were Betty Sanders (President, The Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts); Doug Williams, Sanctuary Director at Stony Brook; and Madeline Champagne (Massachusetts Butterfly Club).
After the first two phases of work were completed in November 2015, the Butterfly Garden stood completely transformed—aggressive overgrowth and invasive plants were replaced by native host and nectar plants, a new plot plan was in place, all plants were given labels, and a new crushed stone certified by the City of Norfolk made the garden wheelchair accessible.
Visitors can now sit back and enjoy the beauty of nature thanks to the hard work and combined efforts of the Butterfly Committee; GNC members; a number of volunteer groups; and Stony Brook staff members Doug Williams, Jessica Watson, and Matt O'Neill.
We hope the Butterfly Garden will provide a quiet haven for people to relax and observe the flowers and their visitors.