Volunteers help install the new butterfly garden near the Albany Area Arts Council, 215 N. Jackson St. (April 20, 2013)
ALBANY, Ga. -- Keep an eye on the Albany Arts Council building at 215 N. Jackson St. If community volunteers of the One Day Project have their way, there'll be some fresh outdoor kind of art there -- the fluttering orange and black kind -- dropping in on its way to Mexico.
One Day is a project of the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County. But to finish the butterfly garden on Saturday, they got some help from Key Club members of the Southwest Georgia Homeschool Association and Southwest Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program members.
"We're planting a variety of plants specifically to attract monarch butterflies," said Shelley Brooks, president of homeschooler Key Club. "They fly across the continent south to Mexico and we'd like to get them to stop here on their way."
Darlene Butler, adviser for the Key Club, said that master gardeners were on hand to show the diggers which plants should go where.
"The rest of us are just here to provide the labor," Butler said.
According to Suzanna McIntosh, a master gardener from Baker County, the Arts Council garden is a planned continuation of the first butterfly garden at Radium Springs, which was completed a few years ago by master gardeners and volunteers from Albany Tech.
"The idea was for the Radium Springs garden to be a hub," McIntosh said, "to encourage a network of butterfly gardens throughout the region."
McIntosh said that among other advantages, the projects would beautify the environment, help the butterflies and teach people new gardening methods.
"This is one of the very first gardens in the network," McIntosh said. "We're excited that Kiwanis of Dougherty County, SWGHS and the Albany Area Arts Council had the vision to put a butterfly garden on the south side of the Carnegie Library (Arts Council) building."
According to McIntosh, the master gardeners were asked to provide guidance as well as the plants for the project. She said the group received an anonymous donation of plants, and a donation from Tim Yates of Albany, who also designed the Jackson Street garden.
"We believe that Southwest Georgia is one of the most beautiful parts of the state, and even the world," McIntosh said. We want to encourage butterfly gardens and share with everyone that we are a very special place down here."
McIntosh said she was unaware until a few years ago that monarch butterflies require both a host plant and a nectar plant. "Monarchs will lay eggs only on milkweed," McIntosh said. "If there's no milkweed in the environment, you'll have no monarch butterflies."