Thursday, December 9, 2021

Garden Club Members Get Sweaty & Dirty Pruning the Butterfly Garden

Photos by Maria Lamb | Butterfly Garden Brigade during September pruning at the Butterfly Garden. (L – R) Susan LaGrotta (Coordinator), Kathy McNabb, Donna Kay, Nancy Adams, and Mary McIntosh. Missing from the photo are Sue Oldershaw and Linda Ariel.

Photos by Susan Lagrotta | Syd Mellinger with Susan LaGrotta at Bentley Village. Syd Mellinger, honorary member of the Calusa Garden Club. Now retired, Syd is the Director of the Library at Bentley Village. She was Director of the Library for 20 years in Lake Forest, Illinois before moving to Marco with her husband Jim and also served on the Collier County Library Board for many years.

It is the last Saturday of September, and members of the Calusa Garden Club’s “Butterfly Brigade” were busy giving the Butterfly Garden much-needed weeding, pruning and trimming. Sweating from head to toe, enduring the brutally hot and humid morning, these dedicated gardeners are obsessed with making sure that the garden looks good and does not give way to weeds. They trimmed down plants that look leggy such as the beach daisy, so it will rejuvenate with fresh flush of yellow blooms 

The Butterfly Garden is host to many species of butterflies such as the Monarchs that feed on milkweeds. A big threat to Monarchs is the frequent use of systemic insecticides in milkweed plants purchased from non-native nurseries. They are more likely to have been treated with chemicals which persist in the plant tissues, killing caterpillars and causing the eggs not to hatch. Keeping the milkweed plants healthy at the garden is important. 

The Cassia and butterfly bushes were trimmed to a shaggy bush to encourage abundant flowersand they are host to the Sulphur and little yellow butterflies. The September trimming will ensure flowers in November providing colors when most plants have stopped blooming. 

The purple passion vine is host to the zebra longwing and they also tend to get leggy and the host to the Zebra Longwing butterfly. Did you know that the Zebra Longwing is Florida’s State butterfly? 

The use of a handy Gardening Guide will help you maximize your monthly planting success with helpful tips for the cooler, drier weather in the fall and winter. Marco’s dry season starts in October and runs through Aprilwhen the average rainfall may be an inch or two each month.  

The Gardening Guide was written by members of the Calusa Garden Club and is filled with important monthly information on when to irrigatewhat type of fertilizer to use, pruning tipslawn care and what to plant.  

For the Month of September, the Club’s Gardening Guide alerts you to the fact that it is the last month on the Fertilizer Ban per Marco City OrdinanceAnother important tip for September is the recommendation that its time to prune all plants in your garden. It is also the last time to prune bougainvillea and to start planting vegetables like cucumber, kale, lettuce and tomatoes and to start your coolweather herbs like parsley. It takes the guesswork out on most of your planting questions.

In 2001, under the leadership of Syd Mellinger, CGC raised over $12,000 through the sale of a Garden Guide called “Palms, Pineapples and Periwinkles.” The current Gardening Guide is an updated version of the Palms, Pineapples and Periwinkles and is geared for Marco Island gardeners and landscapers for subtropical and coastal Zone 10A. 

Photos by Susan Lagrotta | Native Milkweed, a host plant to Monarch butterflies. Calusa Garden members prefer Milkweed from native nurseries which have not been treated with systemic insecticides, which persists in the plant and toxic to caterpillars.

The Butterfly Garden was made possible by a 2003 public endowment from Calusa Garden Club to the City of Marco Island in the sum of $10,000. Calusa Park is located on a one-half mile linear pathway on Winterberry Drive. It was deeded by the Mackle Brothers as a Green Belt and was referred to as Tract C & D. In July 2011, its name was changed to Calusa Park by the Beautification Advisory Committee. 

In addition, Calusa Park features a wide concrete shared pathway popular with both cyclers and walkers. The Butterfly Garden provides a burst of color and buzzes with pollinators with several benches allowing for a quiet observation point for visitors. Most plants are labeled for easy identification. 

The Calusa Garden Club is a member of the Florida Federation of Garden Club and membership is open to those interested in horticulture, floral design and the environment. For club information, visit, or visit the Club’s Facebook at Calusa Garden Club. 

Feel free to stop by and join the group on the last Saturday of each month. The Gardening Guide is available for purchase at the MICA office for $10.

Photos by Maria Lamb | “Gardening Guide” was written and published by the Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island. Perfect for property owners and landscapers for Subtropical and Coastal Zone 10A available at the MICA Office for $10. Tip: Never use pesticide on nectar plants such as penta, firebush, milkweed, and porterweed.


3 responses to “Garden Club Members Get Sweaty & Dirty Pruning the Butterfly Garden”

  1. Susan Oldershaw says:

    Another very informative article by Maria Lamb, the one on the Marco Butterfly Garden on Winterberry is great. And what a great Gardening Guide available at Chamber of Commerce for $10. Every home owner should have one so they are informed and can direct their landscape people properly.

  2. Great article on Calusa Park Butterfly Garden and Calusa Garden Club. The tips on gardening for September are very welcome.

  3. The Gardening Guide looks so easy to

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