With long, hot summer days and a shorter work week now upon us, Valencia’s sustainability office encourages employees to stroll by the West or Osceola Campus butterfly gardens.
Following the lead of East Campus, which for many years has been landscaped with an emphasis on native plants that attract butterflies, the West and Osceola Campuses have now created their own areas for these insects to gather.
West Campus built its butterfly garden in an area of neglected turf grass behind HSB near Lake Pamela in September of last year during the Green Apple Day of Service, while Osceola built a garden between the Clock Tower and Building 1 in early May.
“Butterfly gardening involves minimizing pesticide use and planting native plants as first steps,” said Deborah Green, director of sustainability. “Second steps are to use a selection of both host plants and nectar plants for the butterflies.”
Host plants are plants that can be eaten by butterfly larvae as they grow. Some of the host plants in these gardens include Passion Flower, Milkweed and Partridge Pea. Nectar plants include Tropical Sage, Firebush, Bee Balm or Dotted Horsemint, Gaillardia, Dune Sunflower, Native Petunia and many others.
The West Campus butterfly garden includes only native species, including some that were salvaged from East Campus prior to the widening of Econlockhatchee Trail and others were propagated by Sustainability Committee members.
The garden is mulched with Melaleuca mulch, which helps retain water as well as keep down weeds. “Melaleuca mulch is made from a highly invasive tree species in South Florida,” Deborah pointed out. “Using it improves habitats and helps reduce the harvesting of cypress trees.”
If you are interested in knowing more about this sustainability effort, including how you can help maintain the campus butterfly gardens, please contact Deborah Green, director of sustainability, at email@example.com or at extension 1830.