Over the Garden Fence | Wings in the Park celebrates bees, butterflies, buds

For the CDTJuly 13, 2013 

I received the following information from Doug Ford, an avid Penn State Extension master gardener of Centre County, about “Wings in the Park.” The event will be held July 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden at Tom Tudek Memorial Park. If you have ever thought about starting a butterfly garden, this is an event that you will want to attend.

The amazing Pollinator Parade kicks off the day with pollinator enthusiasts of all ages dressed as their favorite pollinator. They parade from the park entrance to the Butterfly Garden. Once in the garden, you can participate in the habitat exploration game, “The Great Scavenger Hunt”; get your picture taken as a colorful critter in the “Shutterbug Booth”; examine an observation honeybee hive up close; learn about monarch tagging and migration; compare a diet with and without pollinators; visit the “Native Bee Hotel”; decorate delicious caterpillar cookies and learn about the butterfly life cycle; and meet and talk with the one and only Dr. “Butterfly Bob” Snetsinger himself. Doug tells me that year there is a special art exhibit by students from Easterly Parkway Elementary School promoting the importance of pollinators in their lives.

Throughout the event, master gardeners will offer “Habitat Chats” in the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden’s five demonstration gardens, where people can gain insight into the world of pollinators. You will also learn firsthand how to incorporate pollinator-friendly plants and gardening techniques in your home gardens and become an “official” master gardener-certified Pennsylvania pollinator-friendly garden. Every household will be provided with a free Pennsylvania native pollinator friendly plant to jump-start their gardening efforts.

Joining the master gardeners with special exhibits and projects will be Penn State’s Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, the Center for Pollinator Research, and the Frost Entomological Museum, as well as the Pennsylvania Native Plant Society, Centre County Beekeepers Association, Wiscoy, and Discovery Space of Central PA.

Thirteen years ago, this habitat, mainly an old field with an abundance of weeds, had six resident species of butterflies. Today there are more than 30 resident species of butterflies and the garden has been enriched with more than 100 species of native plants serving as caterpillar hosts and providing nectar for the adult butterflies. The Snetsinger Butterfly Garden has become a special place for the public and is visited by youth and school groups, garden clubs, photographers, researchers and thousands of people of all ages each year. Come out and join “Butterfly Bob” Snetsinger and the Penn State Extension master gardeners of Centre County for a day of fun and adventure for whole family while sharing the benefits and delights of pollinator friendly gardening.

For more information, go to www.snetsingerbutterflygarden.org/wings.html.

Bill Lamont is a professor and extension vegetable specialist in the department of plant science at Penn State and can be reached by email at wlamont@psu.edu.

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