Monarch Butterflies will have a safe new habitat to visit this summer and fall when migrating through the U.S. to their final wintering destinations in the mountain forests of Mexico and select spots in California, thanks to a generous donation from the Shirley Shill family.
Shirley’s Monarch Shelter, located in Millie’s Garden at the library, was named after Shirley Shill, a Brighton classroom teacher and founder of School Bell, the first preschool in Brighton. Bev Barton, niece of Shirley said, “Her family, friends, children, and reading were her passions in life and the butterfly symbolized freedom and rebirth for Aunt Shirley.” The family honored her memory by sponsoring the certification for the Monarch Waystation, offering children’s programming in the garden, and by purchasing a sculpted butterfly shaped chair. The chair will be nestled among the flowers that attract the brightly colored Monarch for individuals to sit and watch.
Brighton District Library staff member and Advanced Master Gardener Jane Reed headed up the certification project for the Monarch Waystation. “It’s exciting to be able to gain certification at a time when Monarch Butterfly numbers are dropping at an alarming rate. This new waystation will help sustain the Monarch, thus providing a better chance for survival,” said Reed.
To gain certification Reed had to put into place several factors. These included growing milkweed plants, the host plant and the only plant that Monarch caterpillars feed on; adding necessary annual and perennial nectar plants (marigold, zinnia, bee balm, boneset, butterfly bush, catmint, phlox, and Joe-Pye) for the migrating butterflies; incorporating an area of at least 100 square feet with six or more hours of sunlight per day; providing shelter from predators; having proper drainage and soil type; and creating a pesticide-free site.
Right: Families release milkweed seeds in Millie’s Garden at at recent program at the library.