Friday, July 31, 2015

(Re) building the Butterfly Garden at Victoria Park: Stage 2

“The butterfly garden was meant to be a place for celebration.” Calla Shea-Pelletier, volunteer caretaker at Victoria Park Butterfly Garden 

“What’s alive in Hamilton” butterfly checklist says the city of Hamilton has over 100 species of butterflies and moths.However, due to factors like loss of habitat and chemical use, populations (such as monarch butterflies) continue to decline.
Hamilton Pollinator Paradise project is planting native habitat to attract and nurture more butterflies and other pollinators. On August 5th, we will be replanting the Victoria Park Butterfly Garden and you’re invited!
The garden was originally planted in 2009 by the City of Hamilton for Strathcona School.

Original Garden
Karen Must, a teacher through the Scholastic, Arts and Global Education (SAGE) at the school, initiated whole school participation within the international Monarch Program, in which students raise monarchs in the classroom, releasing them in the fall. SAGE is a program “of choice” with a focus on community involvement both locally and globally.  

The garden represented a first time partnership between the school and The City of Hamilton -- a $50,000 donation to create an irrigated outdoor classroom in Victoria Park to be included in the redesign of Victoria Park. 

Former parent, volunteer and champion of the garden, Calla Shea-Pelletier is looking forward to carrying on the notion of the garden as a hub for community engagement. “Not only has the Butterfly Garden been a collaboration between SAGE and the larger school community, as well, neighbours and interested visitors have all worked to maintain the garden in Victoria Park,” Calla says. “The outdoor garden was meant to be a place for celebration.”

Calla, who started a student garden club on school grounds, explains that Stage Two of the vision for the Butterfly Garden involved plans to create an educational outreach program engaging students and seniors from local nursing homes. It’s a vision that the Pollinator Paradise Project will not lose sight of as the project moves forward. 

She advises that establishing a relationship with the school principal is crucial: “It would be a shame for the school to loose it's connection to the garden, such a rich legacy from which to build.” 

What have been some of the major challenges the garden has faced?

According to Calla, finding volunteers to care for the garden over the summer months is a great concern. “People feel overwhelmed by the garden's maintenance, it's greatest challenge was not having clear walkways from the beginning,” she says. Not having an clear understanding of the difference between weeds and plants has also been a problem for well meaning volunteers. Lastly, Calla points to the increasing issue of safety for all schools: "The Butterfly Garden represents a greater security risk for teachers and requires more planning and coordination of volunteers,” she concludes.
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Paul O’Hara with Blue Oak Native Landscapes (and who donated plants to the original garden) will be taking the lead on planting perennials such as asters and golden rod, milkweed, as well as ferns.

 Join us on Wednesday, August 5th from 7 to 8.30pm.