You are cordially invited to visit the “secret” Butterfly Garden tucked away next to Mount Pleasant’s Marsh View Trail, which is part of 57 acres permanently protected via a conservation easement held by East Cooper Land Trust. It’s located down a winding road between the Mount Pleasant Waterworks (MPW) on 1619 Rifle Range Rd. and behind the Whitesides Elementary School. Although the habitat is somewhat hidden, the trip is well worth the effort since it also includes a dog park, a canopy of old oaks, Wax Myrtles, Long Leaf Pines and Yaupon Hollies. Plus, a quarter-mile paved path leads you to an expansive view of the marsh and salt flats. So, bring along your best friend and the two of you (or more) will enjoy nature at its finest.
During the spring of 2012, East Cooper Land Trust partnered with several local groups and individuals, including famed Lowcountry author Mary Alice Monroe, to create a beautiful Butterfly Garden at the beginning of the Marsh View Trail. The goal was to not only attract butterflies to the area but provide a learning opportunity for those interested in butterflies and their habitat. Through example, their goal continues to focus on how specific native plants can be used for hosting (laying eggs) or feeding (providing nectar) butterflies, moths and hummingbirds. All agree that support for our little pollinator friends is important for survival.
Since January 2017, care for the garden has been initiated by friends and family of Jackie Ashbaugh, plus Master Gardeners. Meeting most Wednesday mornings, the like-minded volunteers get together to identify existing plants, introduce new ones, prune bushes, and contain those that spread, along with the continuous digging and raking. Weeds had been an enormous problem, particularly since butterflies can’t tolerate chemical control. Newspapers, cardboard and mulch were put down to cover those areas to remediate the problem – with great success. Volunteers have also powerwashed the benches and arbors, painted the Information Board and supplied laminated information cards about southeastern birds and butterflies. Along with their time, contributions included spring bulbs, and Canna Lilies, Society Garlic, Yarrow, and Echinacea divisions, plus Mexican sunflowers from their own gardens to enhance the environment. Future hopes consist of developing a compost area and adding native grasses and plants to add protection for our pollinators on a year-round basis.
Support for the garden comes from a variety of sources. MPW supplies our water (drip lines were replaced with more efficient low-pressure irrigation heads) and hauls away our debris on an as needed basis. Mount Pleasant Tree Service provided free mulch for our pathway. Both the Native Plant Society and the Master Gardener’s Board contributed much appreciated funds in the form of grants.
As well as providing a refuge to our pollinator friends, people ranging in age from the very young to the elderly enjoy the garden. Whitesides Elementary School students, having observed the metamorphosis of Monarchs in their classroom, come to the habitat for the final stage to watch as the chrysalides split open, butterflies emerge, dry, harden and spread their wings before flying away. Another day, a Brownie Troop created basking rocks for the pollinators. Later, families arrived for a tour and left with Milkweed to plant in their own gardens. And finally, it’s been rewarding to watch seniors saunter through this natural setting. Future endeavors include The Butterfly Fling, sponsored by the East Cooper Land Trust, to be held in October.
As you can see, there’s no excuse for you (and your friends) not to visit this little oasis and enjoy one of Mount Pleasant’s best-kept secrets.
http://eastcooperland.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Garden-Photo-1.jpg9151590ECLT/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ECLT-logo.pngECLT2018-05-09 19:47:102018-07-26 19:45:34OpEd - Psst, do you want to know a secret?
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East Cooper Land Trust is a community-supported organization devoted to conserving land to benefit people and the environment both now and forever.