With over 400 plants in the ground, nice weather and community fun, the Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) butterfly garden planting was a success.
The event, hosted by the Chamber and the Independence Avenue Community Improvement District (CID), occurred Saturday, May 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. During this time, the organizations and community volunteers came together to help plant monarch plant kits in planter beds and pots along Independence Ave. between Montagall and Wabash avenues.
The butterfly gardens are a part of the Monarch Mariposa Project, which is sponsored by Kansas City Southern Railroad, the Kansas City Downtown Rotary Club and Suburban Lawn & Garden. The goal of the project is to help save the monarch butterfly population by providing safe spaces for the butterflies to rest along their migration route south to Mexico.
A total of 27 kits supplied by Suburban Lawn & Garden were planted along the Avenue that morning, said Mike Spady, Urban Planner and Director of Operations for the CID.
Some of the plants in the kits included Butterfly Weed, Blue Wild Indigo and Pale Coneflower. Each flower from the kits was carefully selected as a way to provide optimal support for the monarchs traveling through the area, Spady said.
Markers were placed in each planter bed and pot days prior to the event. The markers were then used on the day of to outline where each plant from the kits would be placed.
“It took just a couple days to place the markers in each bed,” said CID Street Ambassador Shae Walkin, who was in charge of placing the markers along the Avenue.
There was an importance to mapping out where each plant would go before the actual planting began, Spady said. For instance, it was important to know which plants were designated for the south side, and which for the north, so that plants got the proper sunlight they required.
On the morning of the event, CID members and community volunteers were tasked with matching plants to their corresponding markers and then simply planting them in their appointed spot.
The event started a little slow in the beginning, but after the first couple planter beds were completed, the butterfly garden planting was well on its way.
“We had to substitute some plants around,” Walker said when addressing the slow beginning to the morning. “[Suburban Lawn & Garden] sent us a bunch of flowers that were not on the list, so I’m like, ‘Okay, we’ll just have to make some substitutions.’”
The event brought out a handful of community members who wanted to help support the Avenue and the Monarchs. One volunteer, Bill O’Brien, brought his daughter out to help with planting the gardens.
“We actually just moved to the KC area from Seattle, and so we’re just trying to get involved in our community,” O’Brien said. He said it was an easy sell to get his daughter to come out and help because she loves the monarch butterflies she has seen on her family’s camping trips to Mount Baker.
In addition to the actual planting, the event offered much more to its community members who stopped by to help. There were sweet treats, such as popsicles from Frutopia, drinks provided by Eleos Coffee House and free gifts for kids.
The Chamber and CID also provided volunteers with the opportunity to have their face painted by Pendleton ArtsBlock resident Bethany Alzanadi for the first half of the event. For the second half, professional mime Beth Byrd-Lonkski appeared as the event’s mascot known as “Betty the Butterfly.”
The hope is these monarch butterfly gardens will not only make the Avenue look nice, but also provide a “waystation” for butterflies migrating through the area, said Bobbi Baker-Hughes, President and CEO of the chamber and manager of the CID.
“The monarchs symbolize emigration and transformation,” Baker-Hughes said. “And I say that that’s what our community here is built upon, our immigrants coming in and transforming their lives and this community.”