A butterfly habitat pollination garden is being established in Gunn Park by some residents.
Alison Leach and Krisi Bowman had an idea to create pollination habitats, and have been working to see the idea come to fruition.
The two presented pollination habitat information to the Fort Scott City Commission in August 2020.
They requested permission to seek a site, resources, and establish a team of volunteers.
“The Covid Pandemic became a barrier as there were limited people able to gather for meetings to consider the vision,” Bowman said.
This did not deter the two and they spent hours seeking a site that provides adequate sun and space, she said.
Fort Scott Parks Director Doug Guns has experience in utilizing pollinator plants on golf courses, Bowman said.
“He was very supportive of the butterfly habitat and realized the benefits,” she said.
At a Fort Scott Parks Advisory Board meeting, Guns gave information on developing a small-scale butterfly habitat project near the Gunn Park entrance.
“He provided some guidelines of signs and warnings of bees that the public may need to be aware of, if allergic, to mitigate any injury,” Bowman said.
“Native plants are best since that is what supports pollinators in their natural habitat,” Bowman said. “They are much lower maintenance due to their long roots and require less water than non-natives and thrive in less than ideal conditions. Each species of butterfly has a specific host plant as well. Monarch’s host plant is milkweed which serves as the only food source for Monarch caterpillars. It is important to have diversity in nectar plants for different bloom times so pollinators will have nectar throughout the entire season.”
Gardening is something Bowman enjoys.
“The best part about gardening is that it is for everyone,” she said. “If there is otherwise useless space it can become something beautiful and beneficial for native wildlife even in small spaces.”
“When we started this project the main goal was to create more natural habitat space free of pesticides in otherwise unused space to support pollinators and encourage more native plantings in our community,” she said. “Native (plant) gardens are not only beautiful- they also serve a purpose.”
For Bowman, a Monarch Butterfly garden is something she has been enjoying for some time.
She has been growing milkweed and other native plants on her property for years, she said.
She has established a connection with Monarchs on the Move out of Kansas City, Missouri.
“April with Monarchs on the Move has had a 501c3 (non-profit status) for seven-plus years and was gracious to hold a teleconference with Alison and I,” Bowman said. “April provided clear step-by-step recommendations to prepare the site. April offered to share her harvested seed for our initial project this fall.”
Leach appeared once again before the Fort Scott City Commission and asked for permission to begin the project to the left side of Gunn Park entrance and it was granted, she said.
Leach and Bowman met with Doug Guns and he advised of a few resources (grants) to review, she said.
“Doug has been an instrumental part of this project coming to fruition,” Leach said. “City park employees have been accessible and helpful during the preparation of soil and area. Norman Mackey had recently tilled the area and it’s now prepared for the seeding process.”
“The group welcomes volunteers this spring and will announce any opportunities, on our Facebook page: Bourbon County Monarch,” Leach said.