The Butterfly Gardens/Meadows

Butterfly Gardens were established in the park, in the flood plain of Connelly's run with funding from outside agencies.  As the introduced plants have become established, the gardens are now being allowed to revert to Butterfly Meadows.  Maintenance of the meadows depends on volunteer labor.  If you'd like to help, please contact us.

History of the Project

In the summer of 2000 Clyde Kessler and Fred Singer of Pathways for Radford received funding from the Environmental Protection Agency Enviro Education Program and the Virginia Environmental Endowment  for a long-term conservation study of species diversity in Wildwood Park using butterflies as indicator species.

In August and September spaces for two gardens were cleared of weedy trees and shrubs.  Both gardens were in the floodplain of Connelly's Run; one along the road that runs through the park, the other near the bridge over the run.  Volunteers from Pathways for Radford, freshman in the Service Learning program at Radford University, and students in Botany at the University cleared the last of the brush from these sites, marked out the boundaries of the gardens, mulched footpaths in the garden, and planted dozens of wildflowers native to southwestern Virginia.  Many of the species planted were already known to grow wild elsewhere in the park.

Wildflowers Planted in the Butterfly Gardens

Asclepias incarnata Swamp Milkweed
Aster divaricatus White Wood Aster
Aster laevis Smooth Aster
Aster novae-angliae New England Aster
Aster novi-belgii New York Aster
Eupatorium fistulosum Trumpetweed
Helianthus angustifolius Narrow-Leaved Sunflower
Helianthus microcephalus Small Wood Sunflower
Helianthus tuberosus Jerusalem Artichoke
Liatris spicata Gayfeather
Lobelia cardinalis Cardinal Flower
Lobelia siphilitica Great Lobelia
Monarda didyma Bee Balm
Monarda fistulosa Wild Bergamot
Silphium perfoliatum Cup Plant

Once the gardens had been set up as described, ongoing surveys of butterflies in the different parts of the gardens were conducted.  In addition, signs were installed in the park with pictures of common plants and butterflies of the area, enabling park visitors to identify the plants and butterflies that they saw.  Data cards were made available in the park, allowing visitors to record their observations of butterflies in the area.  Data from the gardens is being analyzed to help us understand the diversity of species in the park, and how that diversity may be helped or harmed by our attempts at improving the park.

The Meadows
The original grant for setting up the gardens has now been spent, and many of the introduced plants have become well established.  In 2003, the Wildwood Committee decided to convert the Butterfly Gardens to a more natural state.  Minimal mulching will be done to provide some paths, and regular mowing will be performed to suppress woody plants.  To emphasize this change it was decided to call the new, more natural state the Butterfly Meadows.  The meadows will continue to support the park's butterflies, as well as to provide diversity of habitat within the park.  They remain places of beauty and serenity for visitors as well as places of research and learning for students of the Radford schools and Radford University and naturalists of all ages.  To volunteer to help with the maintenance of the meadows, please contact us.

Butterflies to be expected in the gardens/meadows
See the Butterfly list for butterflies that have been seen and reported in Wildwood Park.

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Last updated 5 June 2003