Preparing for pollinators: New butterfly gardens open at The Cedars

Chad Frey
A caterpillar munches on parsley in preparation for metamorphosis on The Cedars campus in a newly planted pollinator garden at the retirement community.

Carolyn Schrock started gardening in a little different way about three or four years ago — paying more attention to native plants that attract pollinators to her gardens.

Her change of focus has worked — there are more butterflies fluttering about her gardens as a result.

“I have not seen a lot of monarchs,” Schrock said. “I have seen swallowtails and a smaller butterfly that looks like a monarch, we call them painted ladies. I have seen a lot of other butterflies, smaller butterflies.”

That change in focus came about over her concern for pollinators — honey bees, butterflies and other organisms the help pollinate plants. Populations have been declining steadily over the past several years.

“I have concern about the lack pollinators in our country, our state and our community. Eventually, if we don’t have pollinators, we won’t have crops and food to eat,” Schrock said.

A resident of the Cedars, she started looking around the campus of the retirement home as she contemplated the success of her small plots in her own yard.

She spotted some larger places that, in her eye, could be good places to plant pollinator gardens. She wrote a proposal, which was approved by the Village Council.

“It started as a personal goal but I decided that we had access to a lot more land we can use to promote the butterflies,” Schrock said.

Planting of new gardens started in the spring, with a focus on native perennial plants. Perennials are plants that live more than two years, helping reduce maintenance and the need for replanting.

For native plantings, the group turned to Dyck Arboretum of the Plains of Hesston, which each year hosts the largest native plant sale in Kansas. Each year, the sale catalog contains notes on plants that attract pollinators.

“Our goal is all pollinators — birds, bees, bats and butterflies,” Schrock said.

The project has received a designation from as a monarch way station — which allows for the Cedars to post signage at the gardens designating it as a place for monarch butterflies.

This year, the gardens have already attracted butterflies and caterpillars, and the future could spell more traffic.

“I discovered that I-135 is a major flyway for monarch migration,” Schrock said. “... We have had some interesting events with the parsley and swallow tail butterflies. It is not just monarchs.”

And, she said, it has inspired more residents. Those living in duplexes and patio homes have asked for pollinator plants and more information on how to attract pollinators to their yards.

There will be a ribbon-cutting for the butterfly/pollinator garden at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 27 near Darlow Drive.

“We now have a beautiful butterfly garden,” Schrock said.

Carolyn Schrock spearheaded an effort to create butterfly/pollinator gardens at The Cedars after having some success at her home on the campus. There will be a ribbon-cutting for the garden Aug. 27.