Mil­son’s Apollo Park a but­ter­fly haven

The Tribune (NZ) - - COMMUNITY COOKBOOK - RUS­SELL POOLE

Apollo But­ter­fly Park in Mil­son is a great ex­am­ple of what hap­pens when one per­son takes the ini­tia­tive to en­hance their neigh­bour­hood.

One win­ter’s day, for­mer Mil­son res­i­dent Paul Van­den­berg no­ticed hun­dreds of monarch but­ter­flies sleep­ing in the wil­low trees in Apollo Park. The sight inspired him to cre­ate a but­ter­fly sanc­tu­ary.

His ‘‘Monar­chs In Apollo Park’’ pro­ject started in 2011 and flour­ishes with the support of the Palmer­ston North City En­vi­ron­ment Trust, Manawatu Na­tive Plant Nurs­eries, and Palmer­ston North City Coun­cil, along with nu­mer­ous vol­un­teers.

As viewed by a drone, the gar­den takes the form of a gi­ant but­ter­fly. Crammed into it are plants that but­ter­flies and their lar­vae love to feed from.

Na­tive va­ri­eties like New Zealand broom (makaka or maukoro), true flax (rauhuia), and Muehlen­beckia com­plexa (po­hue­hue) thrive here.

The swan plants get de­voured down to bare stems by monarch cater­pil­lars.

‘‘Our plan is to con­tinue to add to these gar­dens, not only to be more in­ter­est­ing but also for young and old to learn about but­ter­fly life cy­cles and the part they play in our ecosys­tem,’’ Van­den­berg said.

He hopes to en­tice ad­di­tional species of but­ter­flies, like the lit­tle blue, Rau­paraha’s cop­per (mokarakare), yel­low ad­mi­ral (kahu kowhai), and na­tive red ad­mi­ral (kahukura, which has dis­tinc­tive blue cen­tres in its spots).

For those want­ing to at­tract but­ter­flies to their gar­den, Van­den­berg rec­om­mends nec­tar-pro­duc­ing plants.

But­ter­flies also love on­gaonga and other net­tles – though the home gar­dener might not be so keen.

Before any­one starts a but­ter­fly gar­den at home, there’s an in­vi­ta­tion to lend a hand at Apollo But­ter­fly Park, off Apollo Pa­rade.

This month’s work­ing bee is on Sun­day, Au­gust 14 from 9am.

Bring a spade, fork, trowel, or prun­ing shears, and it’s ad­vis­able to wear gum­boots, gloves, and warm cloth­ing.

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Monarch but­ter­flies win­ter over in wil­low trees at Apollo Park, Mil­son.

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

But­ter­fly’s eye view of the but­ter­fly-shaped gar­den at Mil­son’s Apollo Park.

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