BARNEGAT LIGHT – Monarch butterflies need a place to flourish.
And so do people.
Both problems were solved with the Garden Club’s pollinator garden in Barnegat Light. The group has been taking care of their winged friends for years.
In the beginning, this took the form of large planters filled with milkweed and nectar plants for caterpillars and butterflies. These were distributed throughout Long Beach Island, the club said.
In 2018, the borough of Barnegat Light acquired land for a park. The Garden Club was given an area to manage as a butterfly garden. What followed was a garden with irrigation, and home to butterfly bushes, St. John’s Wort, and black-eyed Susans.
This has since grown, with volunteers adding various native flowering plants like shasta daisies, coneflowers, phlox, loosestrife, and rose of Sharon. Swamp milkweed and butterfly weed was added specifically for monarchs and caterpillars.
“The aim is to inspire and help local gardeners on the island prepare and maintain healthy environments for butterflies and all pollinators,” club members said. The garden is on West 7th Street (opposite Kubel’s) and visitors are welcome.
It has received plenty of visitors in the way of bees, birds, and butterflies, they said.
Monarch population is down by 53 percent, said Bonnie Brodman, chair of the Garden Club’s Birds and Wildlife committee. Since the animal is designated as requiring protection globally, the committee has worked on improving the habitat locally.
“This year, in particular, it has been a joy for the committee to be outside together, socially distanced and masked, in a beautiful garden enjoying each other’s company,” Brodman said.
The garden won the New Jersey Garden Club’s East Orange Silver Trophy as well as a 3rd place award from the Central Atlantic Region Garden Club in 2019, both for developing and maintaining a community park garden.