June 10, 2004 – The Caribbean Museum and Center for the Arts is offering St. Croix residents the opportunity on Saturday to participate in the creation of a Frederiksted first: a butterfly garden.
With help from local plant and flower expert Ferdie Ferdinand — and cooperation from the butterflies, of course — the museum courtyard will soon be transformed into a haven for the delicate creatures.
Museum and center founder Candia Atwater explained on Thursday that certain plants, shrubs and trees hold a strong attraction for butterflies. "The idea to do this came after visits to a butterfly garden on Sint Maarten," she said.
The garden will be situated within the museum's walled courtyard. "It's 80 feet by 100 feet, and right now there's a lot of grass and a few coconut trees," Atwater said.
But some of the grass will soon give way to a whole new world of flora and, she hopes, a new population of butterflies.
According to The Butterfly Website, there are such gardens in more than 35 countries around the world. They're a commonplace component of South Florida homes as well as public spaces. Dill, parsley, milkweed and fennel are food for both butterflies and caterpillars, but nothing satisfies quite like Verbena and Lantana, according to the Web site's guide for beginner butterfly gardeners.
"Everything we plant on Saturday won't be indigenous, but they're all varieties that do well here in the tropics," Atwater said.
Located in a historic Frederiksted building erected in the 1780s, the Caribbean Museum and Center for the Arts opened last November to display the works of Crucian and other Caribbean artists and to provide space for art classes.
Atwater explained that the museum represents the culmination of a long-term dream. "We've been putting out the Island Art and Soul calendar for nine years now," she said, "and in November, we finally had the funding to open the museum."
Funding for the museum has come primarily from an Economic Development Commission beneficiary company, she said, but she declined to say which one.
Anyone interested in helping out with the butterfly garden project is invited to stop by the museum, located at 62 King Street, between 9 a.m. and noon on Saturday. Those who don't want to get involved in a hands-on capacity are welcome to watch and to bring their cameras.
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