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Butterfly garden design | Bulverde/Spring Branch Library | Central Texas Gardener

December 4, 2019


AT THE BULVERDE/SPRING BRANCH LIBRARY JUST
NORTH OF SAN ANTONIO, PEOPLE ARE CHECKING OUT MORE THAN BOOKS AND MEDIA.
THIS IS NOT JUST A LIBRARY, THIS IS A COMMUNITY CENTER.
WE HAVE PROGRAMS FOR ADULTS, FOR CHILDREN. BEING SORT OF OUT IN THE COUNTRY HERE, IT’S
A PLACE FOR PEOPLE TO COME AND SOCIALIZE. SO, WHEN THE NEW BUILDING OPENED IN 2008,
FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY AND COMAL MASTER GARDENERS DUG IN TO EXTEND THE COMMUNITY OUTDOORS IN
A BUTTERFLY GARDEN. WHEN WE WERE IN ANOTHER BUILDING BEFORE WE
BUILT THIS BEAUTIFUL NEW LIBRARY, I HAD AN IDEA FOR A BUTTERFLY GARDEN AND I INTENDED
THAT IT WOULD BE A LEARNING TOOL FOR ADULTS AS WELL AS CHILDREN.
THEY SITED IT AT THE EDGE OF THE PARKING LOT, ENCLOSING ITS SANCTUARY FROM A HARSH VIEW
TO BUSY HIGHWAYS BELOW. THEY JUST SAY OKAY, LET’S DO IT.
AND THEY DO IT. THEY DON’T WAIT UNTIL, LET’S THINK ABOUT IT
AND PLAN IT. I MEAN, THEY DO IT.
IF IT DOESN’T WORK THEY DON’T DO IT AGAIN. IF IT DOES WORK, HOW DO WE IMPROVE ON IT.
WE INVITED THE MASTER GARDENERS TO COME IN AND HELP US DESIGN.
AND THERE WERE ABOUT TWELVE OF THEM WHO CAME OVER AND WE WALKED OUT ON THE PROPERTY AND
ONE OF THEM BROUGHT HER SPRAY CAN AND SAID, OKAY HERE’S WHERE WE’RE GOING TO DO THIS BED
AND THIS BED. AND YOU WANT IT SORT OF CURVED.
YOU DON’T WANT THE HILL TO BLOCK THE BUTTERFLIES, YOU WANT TO BE ABLE TO SEE OVER THE HILL,
BUT YOU NEED TO BLOCK THE WIND, AND SO IT STARTED FROM THAT AND THEN IT EVOLVED.
WE PUT OUT A NOTICE TO LIBRARY PATRONS THAT WE WOULD LIKE PLANTS DONATED AND WE GOT QUITE
A FEW, AND THEN AMONG US WE ALL HAD SOME PLANTS. WE HAD A COUPLE OF NURSERIES THAT DONATED
A FEW PLANTS. MOSTLY THEY CAME FROM WITHIN OUR COMMITTEE.
BOTH CHARLOTTE AND LEE ARE GREAT PROPAGATORS. WE USED THE FREE MULCH FROM THE COUNTRY AND
THEN FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY SET ASIDE SOME MONEY TO BE SPENT ON THINGS LIKE THE DECOMPOSED
GRANITE AND THAT SORT OF THING. WE HAVE A LOT OF MULCH DOWN.
WE HAVE BROUGHT IN NO SOIL, THIS IS ALL NATIVE SOIL, BUT THE MULCH HAS HELPED TO COMPOST
IT. WE WE PUT NEWSPAPER UNDER THE MULCH, WHICH
HOLDS THE MOISTURE IN SOME AND KEEPS THE WEEDS DOWN.
TO SELECT PLANTS, THEY TOOK A CUE FROM THE ONES NATURE HAD PLANTED ON THE WINDY HILLTOP.
WE’VE TRIED TO KEEP THIS GARDEN VERY NATURAL WITHOUT A LOT OF ALIEN SPECIES AND I THINK
WE’VE BEEN TRUE TO THAT. THEY WENT FOR DEER RESISTANCE, EVERGREEN STRUCTURE,
AND PLANTS THAT CYCLE FLOWERS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR FOR VISUAL PLEASURE AND TO FEED RESIDENT
AND MIGRATORY WILDLIFE. IN THE WINTER TIME, A LOT OF PEOPLE DON’T
KNOW ROSEMARY, EITHER UPRIGHT OR TRAILING, WILL BLOOM WITH LITTLE BLUE FLOWERS.
THE MORNING IF YOU HAVE A SUNNY MORNING WHERE IT’S SEVENTY DEGREES AFTER YOU’VE HAD TWENTY
FIVE OVERNIGHT, IN THIS PART OF TEXAS YOU’LL HAVE BLUE FLOWERS ON THERE, AND AMAZINGLY
YOU’LL GO OUT AT TEN IN THE MORNING AND THERE’S SULFUR BUTTERFLIES. THAT’S A GREAT NECTAR
SOURCE DURING THE WINTER FOR BUTTERFLIES THAT BECOME ACTIVE WHEN THE TEMPERATURE GETS ABOVE
SEVENTY. ONE OF MY FAVORITES IS
THE BLUE MIST FLOWER, WHICH IS A FABULOUS PLANT
FOR ATTRACTING QUEEN BUTTERFLIES, WHICH RESEMBLE MONARCHS.
THEY’RE VERY CLOSELY RELATED, BUT THEY ARE HERE ALL SUMMER, WHERE THE MONARCHS COME THROUGH
ON MIGRATION IN THE SPRING AND MAKE A GENERATION AND THEN IN THE FALL THEY’RE GOING BACK TO
MEXICO WHERE THEY OVERWINTER. THE QUEEN IS HERE ALL SUMMER LONG.
THEY BOOKMARK EACH PLANT. IF IT’S WORKING HERE I CAN DO IT AT HOME BECAUSE
THE CONDITIONS THE CLIMATE THE SOIL IS THE SAME.
AND WHAT THE HECK’S THE NAME OF THIS PLANT YOU KNOW?
AND SO GETTING THOSE TAGS ON IS I THINK KEY TO THE EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE OF SEEING THE
PLANTS, SO TO SPEAK, IN THE FLESH. TO EDUCATE PATRONS ABOUT THE GARDEN’S BUTTERFLIES,
FRIENDS’ PHOTOGRAPHER CHARLOTTE TRUSSELL DOCUMENTS THEM AND THEIR LIFE CYCLE FOR A LIBRARY DISPLAY.
BACK OUTSIDE, PATRONS GO ON A DISCOVERY HUNT TO FIND THE EGGS AND LARVA THEY’VE COME TO
RECOGNIZE. IT’S SORT OF LIKE THE CHICKEN AND THE EGG,
WHICH CAME FIRST THE BUTTERFLY, THE EGG OR THE LARVA.
YOU HAVE TO ACCOUNT FOR ALL DIFFERENT STAGES. AND WE HAVE PLANTS HERE THAT DO DRAW THE BUTTERFLIES
FOR LARVA AND THEN WE HAVE OTHER PLANTS THAT PROVIDE NECTAR FOR THEM ONCE THEY TURN INTO
BUTTERFLIES. WE ALSO HAVE PLANTS THAT PROVIDE NEITHER,
BUT ARE SHELTER DURING BAD WEATHER. FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY LISA REID FOUND A NEW
PASSION, DOCUMENTING WILDLIFE WITH HER CAMERA. LEE AND HIS SON MICHAEL ARE WELL ATTUNED TO
THE GARDEN’S VISITORS. TO SUPPLEMENT BUTTERFLY FOOD, ESPECIALLY IN
DORMANT SEASONS, PAT ROBERTSON PAINTS A PLANK WITH A CONCOCTION OF BEER, BROWN SUGAR, AND
OVERRIPE BANANAS. THERE’S ALWAYS FRESH WATER.
ALTHOUGH THE PLANTS DON’T NEED MUCH TENDING, MASTER GARDENERS LIKE BILL PUCKETT AND PEGGY
HAMM TIDY THINGS UP AND WATER NEW PLANTS UNTIL THEY’RE ESTABLISHED.
THANKS TO A GRANT, A 40,000 GALLON RAINWATER TANK FEEDS THE DRIP SYSTEM FOR ESTABLISHED
PLANTS. AND WHAT’S A GARDEN, ESPECIALLY A LIBRARY
GARDEN, WITHOUT A COMFY PLACE TO READ? WITH MOSAIC ARTISTRY, THE MASTER GARDENERS
STYLED UP AN ORDINARY BENCH. THANKS TO COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS, THE BULVERDE/SPRING
BRANCH LIBRARY BRIDGES KNOWLEDGE FROM INSIDE OUT.
AND PART OF THE KNOWLEDGE WE TRY TO IMPART AT THIS LIBRARY, AS WELL AS THE TWO OTHERS
IN COMAL COUNTY, ARE TO HAVE IT BE AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT WILL WORK HERE.
THEY COME OUT AND LOOK AT PLANTS AND THEY SAY IF THEY GROW IT HERE, I GUESS I CAN GROW
IT AT HOME. IN THE SUMMER THEY TEACH CLASSES TO THE LITTLE
KIDS AND THEY BRING THEM OUT HERE AND THEY WALK THEM THROUGH AND THEY TEACH THEM HOW
TO GROW THINGS. AND SO THE FRIENDS THAT ARE DOING THIS, THEY
REALLY HAVE DONE SO MUCH TO HELP THE PATRONS, BUT THE PATRONS LOVE IT.
I MEAN, YOU SEE THEM OUT HERE ALL THE TIME. YOU KNOW, THEY’VE BEEN ADDING THINGS LIKE
THE PICNIC TABLE AND THE BENCHES, BUT YOU SEE FAMILIES WITH THEIR KIDS OUT HERE READING
A BOOK AND THE KIDS JUST LOVE THE BUTTERFLIES. AND THEY’LL FIND CATERPILLARS AND WE HAVE
TO PUT IT BACK, YOU KNOW, SO THEY IT’S REALLY AMAZING. IT’S JUST BEEN WONDERFUL.
A COUPLE OF TIMES I’VE COME OUT AND THERE HAVE BEEN CHILDREN OUT HERE THAT THE MOTHER
HAS BEEN SAYING, WE CAME TO GET BOOKS, AND THEY HAVE SAID, WE HAVE TO DO THE BUTTERFLY
GARDEN FIRST. WE HAVE HAD PEOPLE HERE FROM OUT OF STATE
WHO COME AND TAKE PICTURES AND SAY THEY’RE GOING BACK AND THEY’RE GOING TO BUILD A GARDEN
IN THEIR AREA.

8 Comments

  • Reply Garden Sheds Devon March 11, 2014 at 7:04 am

    What a perfect selection of beautiful flowers! Presenting this butterfly garden design are quite very uplifting. You really made us learn with different ideas in regards to this matter. I admire your expertise. Thank you!

  • Reply Kristin Haight September 2, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    Beautiful garden! I love how the garden has brought the community together!

  • Reply Bagabones Felis May 2, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    if all libraries did this they could make a huge difference!

  • Reply Giovanni Funaro September 1, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Such a great way of rebuilding a community . . . people do volunteer and donate to make things beautiful.

  • Reply Rk February 10, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Nice natural initiative done by community coming together.

  • Reply Greg LePere May 5, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    FYI, to anyone wanting to visit the library it is open but under a major renovation.

  • Reply Michael JonesDougherty. May 13, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    Spring branch library.& The gardeners did a gr8 job for the butterflies & bees .

  • Reply tee s June 20, 2019 at 12:20 am

    where did you get the plant signs from?

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