Milson’s Apollo Park a butterfly haven
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.
Monarch butterflies winter over in willow trees at Apollo Park, Milson.
Butterfly’s eye view of the butterfly-shaped garden at Milson’s Apollo Park.