# A butterfly garden by design.

The following excerpt is adapted from "Biplanes & Butterflies: An Albuquerque Art Adventure" (Albuquerque, N.M.: Art in the School Inc, 2000), a book written by Sara Otto-Diniz. Read the story and then show it to your parents, teachers and friends. Use the ideas as inspiration for your own butterfly garden.

"Gabe's school playground has a nature trail with sunflower, butterfly and hummingbird gardens, " Cecilia tells her cousin Abby who is visiting in the summer.

"Can I see it?" Abby asks.

The children walk two blocks to Zia Elementary School in Albuquerque and give their cousin a tour. Easy to read signs show the plan view of each garden and identify the flowers.

"Look!" exclaims Cecilia. "There's a butterfly right now settling on a clump of buddleia flowers! See, each flower is like a tiny vase, so the butterfly can sip nectar from many flowers without moving. Also, the color purple attracts them."

"Wow, this is really great" says Abby. "Can we plant a butterfly garden at your house?"

"Yes," says their mother when they return home. "You can make a butterfly garden in the side yard, but you'll need to design it first."

So, the children put a piece of graph paper onto a clipboard, take a pencil and measuring tape and go outside.

"First, we need to make a plan view drawing of the yard and house, and show where the trees and bushes are," explains Cecilia.

"What's a plan view?" Abby asks. "It's like a map of the yard and house--what it looks like from a bird's eye view," Gabe tells her. "Do you remember the plan views we saw at my school?"

So, they measure the wall of the house, and the side yard, and draw it on the graph paper to a scale where one foot equals two squares.

"I think we need to make a list of the plants that butterflies like," answers Cecilia, "and make a note of each plant's height, width, color and if it needs sun or partial shade. Also, since we live in a dry climate, we should make sure that our plants are xeric."

"What does that mean?" Abby wonders.

"It means that they don't need much water. In New Mexico, we need to conserve water and not waste it," Cecilia explains.

So, the children use a nursery catalog* to identify the butterflies' favorite plants, their colors and heights. Because the side yard is in full sun, they choose plants that like sun all day and are xeric. Here's their list:

The children draw circles colored to match the plants where they will be planted in the garden.

Taller plants are at the back near the house, medium plants are in the middle, and the shorter plants are in the front.

The lemon-yellow coreopsis lights up against the deep violet of the buddleia, and the orange butterfly weed glows in front of the blue mist spirea.

Their plan is finished, and Abby goes to sleep dreaming of flying. Butterflies glide past her as she dips down to drink the nectar from a spike of purple buddleia. Tomorrow they'll begin digging the garden.

Visit www.highcountrygardens.com and note plants with the butterfly symbol, sun, and water-wise drop.
COPYRIGHT 2005 International Child Art Foundation
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