On Magic Wings: A Visit to the Beautiful Butterfly Conservatory & Attracting Butterflies to Your Garden…

March 4th, 2011 § 6 comments § permalink

Postman (Heliconius melpomene) – Native to Central and South America

Spring may be fast approaching, but yesterday’s cold and wintry temperatures left me craving a bit of warmth, moisture and color. I love visiting conservatories at this time of year, and fortunately, I live near several, wonderful gardens-beneath-glass. One of my favorite wintertime ‘vacation’ spots is the nearby Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens in Deerfield, Massachusetts. The 8,000 foot greenhouse contains hundreds of blooming, tropical plants, a koi pond, birds, reptiles and of course, beautiful and exotic butterflies from all over the world.

Gardeners often ask me what they can do to attract beneficial insects —especially butterflies— to their gardens. Providing a constant source of nectar from cluster-blooming flowers —particularly Buddleia (butterfly bush), Asclepias (both native and tropical milkweed and butterfly weed), Verbena bonariensis, Monarda (bee balm), Phlox, Heliotrope, Aster, Scabiosa, Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace), Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush), Viburnum, Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed), Liatris (gayflower) and Sedum (stonecrop)is one of the keys to drawing butterflies into your garden. And although the plants mentioned here are favorites, remember that most flowering plants will attract butterflies. Try to fill your garden with blossoms from spring through fall (when migrating butterflies need to gather strength for their journey south), supplementing flowering perennials and shrubs with free-blooming annuals. And remember, many plants attractive to butterflies are also fantastic sources of food for other pollinators; including bees and hummingbirds. Native plants and grasses supply not only food for local caterpillar and butterfly populations, but also create and provide habitat for butterflies throughout their lifecycle and metamorphosis. Butterflies prefer protected spots —enclosed by nearby fences, shrubs/hedges, trees or other tall plants— where they may light on flowers without being blown away by wind. Creating a still oasis will help you to spot these beautiful creatures on calm-wind days.

Beyond design and planting, there is another critical thing to consider when gardening with butterflies in mind. Most gardeners reading this blog have adopted organic practices, but it’s important to note that even the use of organic pesticides can be harmful to butterflies and other beneficial insects. Butterflies of course begin their lives in tiny, vulnerable egg-clusters. As their life cycle progresses —and they become voracious caterpillars— many butterflies are inadvertently killed when they consume pesticide-laden foliage on host-plants; including leaves treated with organic substances like insecticidal soap and Btk (Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki). Use organic pesticides sparingly —only when absolutely necessary— and in a targeted manner. To avoid unintentionally killing butterfly caterpillars and other beneficial larvae, become familiar with garden insects, and their various stages of development. Learning about butterflies —and watching their metamorphosis from egg to caterpillar to mature butterfly— is a great activity to share with children. If you live in New England, I highly recommend a visit to Magic Wings Conservatory & Garden at any time of the year.

Cattleheart (Parides iphidamus) – Native to Central and South America

Glasswing (Greta oto) – Native to Central and South America

Yet-to-be Identified.

Female Cairns Birdwing (Ornithoptera priamus) – Native to Asia (see male below)

Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonia) – Native to Central and South America

Rice Paper (Idea leuconoe) – Native to Asia

Male Cairns Birdwing (Ornithoptera priamus) – Native to Asia

Owl Butterfly (Caligo eurilochus) – Native to Central and South America

Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides) – Native to Central and South America

All of the butterflies pictured here —from Central/South America and Asia— were taken at Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory. I will be writing more about North American butterflies in spring and summer. My favorite butterflies from my visit to the conservatory were the Glasswing and Blue Morpho, and in my own yard, I am partial to Monarch butterflies. What are your favorites? Do you try to draw butterflies to your garden oasis?

Special Thanks to Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens in Deerfield Massachusetts for Information, Resources and a Lovely Afternoon!

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Article and Butterfly/Botanical Photos are ⓒ Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

All photographs, articles and content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without prior written consent.

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Art Inspired by Nature: Butterflies, Birds, Bees & Moths – Exploring the Exquisite Work of Cara Enteles…

October 7th, 2009 § 3 comments § permalink

Peril detail

Peril in the Branches, (detail), oil on aluminum, 48″ x 72″, © 2009 Cara Enteles

Stop. Behold the fleeting, delicate beauty of a butterfly lighting on flower petals, or the whir and buzz of hummingbirds and bees as they dart about, competing for late season pollen. What an amazing and diverse world we live in. As gardeners we tend to be keenly aware and respectful of the living miracles all around us. Time spent in the garden provides many opportunities for close encounters with spiders, bugs and birds as they instinctively go about their daily tasks. These amazing creatures and their relationships with one another, as well as with humankind, are the subject matter of this week’s  Art Inspired by Nature: The Work of Cara Enteles.

I first encountered Cara’s paintings last summer through the Emily Amy Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia where we are both represented and exhibit. Cara’s work is truly beautiful to behold. Metallic aluminum and transparent acrylic supports enhance the saturated hues, surface, depth and detail of her paintings. Immediately mesmerized by the luminous quality of her work, I found myself further drawn in and captivated by the complexity of her natural themes. After looking closely at Cara’s paintings over the course of time, I was not surprised when she told me that she is an avid gardener. Her work communicates both a rich understanding and respect for the natural world, and a joyous, uninhibited sense of wonder.

Many of us have become deeply and legitimately concerned about shrinking habitat, changing climate, and other ecological imbalances both natural and manmade. Cara’s work speaks to these concerns by exploring the complex relationships between the species in both her ‘Alternative Pollinator’ and ‘Predator and Prey’ series’.  I hope you will make the time to look closely at Cara’s work and to share it with others. Artists of all kinds play an important social role by raising awareness and inspiring action. Cara’s work gives voice to the concerns of the honeybee, the hummingbird, the butterfly and the plants they pollinate; the natural world and web of life, upon which we all depend.

Cara Enteles‘ paintings can be seen in galleries and collections though out the United States, and this month she is participating in Art London with Four Square Arts in the United Kingdom, October 8-12th. The artist divides her time between New York City and her home in Abramsville, Pennsylvania, where she works in her beautiful vegetable garden, pictured below…

~ Click to enlarge any photo ~

Cara Enteles, working bees oil on acrylic sheet 2' x 2' cara enteles

Working Bees, oil on acrylic sheet, 2′ x 2′, © Cara Enteles

Peril in the Branches Oil on Aluminum 48x72 inches

Peril in the Branches, oil on aluminum, 48″ x 72″, © Cara Enteles

Cara Enteles, Alternative Polinators 5, oil on acrylic sheet, 2' x 2', cara enteles

Alternative Pollinators 5, oil on acrylic sheet, 2′ x 2′, © Cara Enteles

Hummingbird Pollinators 2 Oil on Aluminum 26x36 inches lr

Hummingbird Pollinators 2, oil on aluminum, 26″ x 36″, © Cara Enteles

Cara Enteles, The Last Days of Summer, oil on acrylic sheet 36" x 36"

The Last Days of Summer, oil on acrylic sheet, 36″ x 36″, © Cara Enteles

Cara Enteles, Mostly Moths # 3, enamel and oil on aluminum, 48" x 32", Cara Enteles

Mostly Moths #3, enamel and oil on aluminum, 48″ x 32″, © Cara Enteles

Butterfly Installation, oil on aluminum 9' x 3'

Butterfly Installation, oil on aluminum, 9′ x 3′,  ©  Cara Enteles, (detail below)…

Butterfly Installation, detail, oil on aluminum, 9' x 3'

For more information on where to see/acquire Cara’s work, please visit her website: www.caraenteles.com

Thank you so much Cara, for sharing your work !

All artwork displayed on this post is the copyrighted property of Cara Enteles, and may not be reproduced or used in any way without her express written consent.

Cara's garden

~ Cara’s Pennsylvania Vegetable Garden ~

Learn more about protecting the honeybee, birds and nature at these sites:

The Honeybee Conservancy

The National Audubon Society

The Nature Conservancy

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Article copyright 2009, Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

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