Over ten years ago I discovered monarchs sheltering in a tall macrocarpa tree (Cupressus macrocarpa) during the winter in the Blockhouse Bay Recreational Reserve. Several other people, including Dennis Lincoln, were keen to make the area more attractive for the butterflies so volunteers have been working hard to beautify a small area of bush, eliminating weeds and planting host plants and flowers.
The Whau Local Board has been very supportive and a group of Year 12-13 students from Auckland International College have come weekly as part of their International Baccalaureate diploma programme. The school aims to educate the whole person and one component is that they must give their time to provide service to others in the community.
We also get tremendous support from retailers such as Daltons (compost and bark chip) and Bunnings (stakes and bulbs) to name a few.
The long, hot summer gave us an opportunity to cover weeds with cardboard and mulch. Most of the persistent weeds (like wild strawberry and buttercup) are smothered and the combination of carbon and nitrogen feeds the soil.
Amongst the swan plants are Muehlenbeckia (for the coppers) and clover (for the blues) as well as flowering plants… all for the butterflies.
An interpretative sign (including ‘Please don’t pick the flowers’) was installed last month.
The next working bee is scheduled for 10am Sunday 12 July. We have organised some interesting speakers who will talk to us about rats, the Whau River, the iNaturalist app, and butterflies. If the weather’s wet we will meet at the tennis club.
If you are keen to help out in this garden, please contact the volunteer group via Facebook: “Blockhouse Bay Recreation Reserve Butterfly Habitat”.
Jacqui Knight, AKA Madam Butterfly