Lev Bely, 14.03.2012 23:03
Tucked away so that you hardly notice it even passing nearby, a small park in Apollo park somewhere at Milson outskirts, a Palmerston North suburb, being inch by inch turned with hands of its creator and inspired volunteers, into an unordinary, special place for butterflies.
Paul Vandenberg was busy with that very doing all last year — he's been working tirelessly till butterflies of all kinds could rest there all year round, or just perch, whatever they need. Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are kind of local stars: once Paul happened to watch hundreds of monarchs rest in the park's willow trees, and, as it often comes, lost his head.
Vandenberg is actually a truck driver, nature lover and bushwalker. Watching butterflies he noticed that they come to the park every winter and stay there for a long time. They spend winter sleeping in trees and sometimes when the sun comes out they wake up and try to take off. “It's an amazing sight,” he said.
The park consists of a few butterfly-shaped gardens with native trees, grasses and swan plants (Asclepias physocarpa) that butterflies need all year round. “They can detect the swan plants from about one kilometre away.” Swan plants are also attractive to other New Zealand butterflies such as the Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Yellow Admiral (Vanessa itea), and the Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas).
Vandenberg is doing his best for butterflies to get safe and friendly place. As well as he wants to teach people about different species. “If I can educate people and get them interested in our native butterflies that'd be great.”
Paul's ideas captured many people which formed a real “spade knights” community around the park. He himself spends every spare minute on his project whether researching native plants, unloading mulch, hammering in pegs, or drawing up business plans for funding applications.
He's got success: the park monarchs have already received funding from Palmerston North City Environmental Trust, support from Manawatu Native Plant Nurseries, and Palmerston North City Council.
The park is still being arranged and volunteers are sure to have enough work for the near future. Vandenberg hoped to get more funding for the park could be extended and the gardens would “wrap” those willow trees that butterflies loved to rest in.
“We'll have something over this side of the town. It's something else for Milson.”
The park opening this Saturday, in Milson Apollo park, from noon to 3pm. Butterflies will be released in the park, while people will watch and enjoy. Those who won't, will get spades and go digging earth:)
Photo: Butterfly Park and Monarch butterflies in the park, http://www.facebook.com/MonarchsApolloPark
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