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A group of nine women from The Summit House condominiums took a tour Nov. 1 of the Calusa Park Butterfly Garden, with guides Sue Oldershaw, Susan LaGrotta and Linda Colombo of Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island.

The women call themselves the “Juliets” and socialize with lunches and outings throughout the year.  The Summit House resident Regina Dayton led the group and organized the outing.

Calusa Park Butterfly Garden is located in the half-mile linear park at 1441 Winterberry Drive. Calusa Park was set aside by the Mackle Brothers and is maintained by the city of Marco Island, while the Butterfly Garden was established as a joint effort among Marco Island Beautification Advisory Committee, Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island, and Marco Island residents.

The Butterfly Garden is located across from the baseball fields and along the newly installed paved bike pathway in Calusa Park that was installed through the efforts of the Marco Island Bicycle Path Committee.  Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island members are the stewards of the Butterfly Garden – they maintain it with monthly or more frequent work sessions during which they weed, plant or transplant butterfly-beneficial plants, water, and prune.

Sue Oldershaw described the plants in the Butterfly Garden to the Juliets, while Susan LaGrotta detailed the life cycle of the butterfly.  Linda Colombo added information about what butterflies are attracted to each plant. Oldershaw pointed out the wide variety of flowering plants in the Butterfly Garden and showed the Juliets the newly placed signs that identify each plant and also list whether the plant is a nectar plant for butterflies or a host plant for caterpillars or chrysalises.

The Passion Vine, a host for the Gulf Fritillary butterfly, was visited by several butterflies during the session.  The Dutchman’s Pipevine is a host plant for Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies, while the Beautyberry is a nectar plant for several species of butterflies. During the tour, the Juliets saw over 25 species of plants, including flowers, bushes, trees and vines, and enjoyed seeing Gulf Fritillary butterflies, Zebra Longwing butterflies, and Sulphur butterflies. 

To schedule a guided tour of the Calusa Park Butterfly Garden, contact Susan LaGrotta at SusanLaGrotta54@gmail.com.

Calusa Garden Club members work in the Butterfly Garden the last Saturday of each month from about 9 to 11 a.m., and they also welcome visitors at that time. In addition, Marco Island residents who are interested in the Butterfly Garden may enjoy it without a tour – there are pamphlets available to visitors in clear plastic boxes mounted at eye level in the Butterfly Garden. With the pamphlet, it is easy to identify the plants and butterflies.

Benches are located in the Butterfly Garden so that visitors may rest and quietly enjoy the beautiful plants and the butterflies that may be visiting.

Calusa Garden Club is a member of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs and membership is open to those interested in horticulture, floral design and environmental matters residing 5 months or more in Collier County. 

Calusa Garden Club meets the second Monday of each month, October through March, at Wesley United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 350 S. Barfield Drive, Marco Island.  Business meetings begin at 12:30 p.m. and programs begin at 1:15 p.m. Calusa Garden Club welcomes visitors interested in educational programs and visitors interested in membership.

Contact the Garden Club at calusagardenclub@aol.com, or on the Garden Club’s website, calusa.org, or visit the Club’s Facebook page Calusa Garden Club.                                                                         

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