When Regina Dayton needed to plan a special outing for the “Juliets,” a group of women from The Summit House who socialize together, she called her friend, Susan LaGrotta.
LaGrotta is the chair of the Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island’s Butterfly Garden Committee, and the idea for a guided tour was born. Butterfly Garden Committee members Sue Oldershaw and Linda Colombo joined LaGrotta to give the guided tour to the nine Juliets.
The Butterfly Garden is located at Calusa Park on Winterberry Drive, across from the baseball fields and along the newly installed bike path. Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island members are the stewards of the Butterfly Garden – they maintain it with work sessions during which they weed, plant or transplant butterfly-beneficial plants, water, and prune.
The half-mile linear Calusa Park was set aside for Marco Island residents by the Mackle Brothers and is maintained by the City of Marco Island. The Butterfly Garden was established by the City of Marco Island Beautification Advisory Committee in 2009, with assistance from the Calusa Garden Club.rf
The Juliets enjoyed a sunny day of learning. LaGrotta described the life cycle of the butterfly; Oldershaw described the plants in the garden; and Colombo added information about which butterflies are attracted to each plant. While Oldershaw named flowering plants in the Butterfly Garden, she pointed out the newly placed signs identifying the plants. Everyone enjoyed smelling the yellow-blossomed cassia didymobotrya, which smells like buttered popcorn! The passion vine, with its large round purple flowers, is a host for the Gulf fritillary butterfly; it was visited by several butterflies during the tour.
The Garden Club guides showed the Juliets over 25 species of butterfly-friendly plants, including flowers, bushes, trees and vines, and both the guides and the Juliets enjoyed seeing Gulf fritillary butterflies, zebra longwing butterflies, and sulphur butterflies.
To schedule a guided tour of the Calusa Park Butterfly Garden email SusanLaGrotta54@gmail.com. Calusa Garden Club members work in the Butterfly Garden the last Saturday of each month from 9 to 11 AM and welcome visitors at that time. Visitors may tour on their own using informative pamphlets located at the Butterfly Garden.
For more information about the Calusa Garden Club, visit calusa.org or the Club’s Facebook page.