Bloom and grow as a volunteer for Perth butterfly garden
PERTH WILDLIFE RESERVE, July 26, 2021 – “Being outside and listening to the birds, you’re working in the garden and it’s just a really healthy place to be.”
That’s as peaceful as a job description can get, and volunteer gardener Karen Hunt hopes it will attract new, young volunteers just as her group’s garden has attracted all manner of birds, bees and butterflies over the past 15 years.
Karen is one of a dozen core volunteers who have been nurturing the butterfly garden at Perth Wildlife Reserve since it was installed at the conservation area in 2005.
It began as an effort through the now-disbanded Rideau Valley Field Naturalists to help monarch butterflies, but the five large wildflower beds now attract pollinators of all kinds. Pollinators play a critical role in most ecosystems and are responsible for pollinating up to a third of the food we eat.
The garden is surrounded by natural meadow habitat as part of the 635-acre reserve owned by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA), which only adds to its appeal for wildlife and humans alike.
“Every time I’m here I see several different groups and families come along who say they enjoy coming here,” Karen said. “There’s so much to see when you stop and watch and listen. It’s still very much an undiscovered garden.”
She said it’s the perfect volunteer job for her: outside in the sunshine, surrounded by the quiet buzz of meadow life, working to make a difference for her community and the planet.
But it’s getting harder to keep up.
While RVCA staff help with mowing, filling up the water tanks and even providing leftover wildflowers from their stewardship programs, some of the more work-intensive tasks are becoming unmanageable as the garden’s core volunteers get older.
The native wildflower gardens don’t need a lot of babying, but every so often the beds need major work. In 2017 and 2018 a team from MNRF’s Stewardship Ranger program helped the team dig out several beds and redo them totally.
Several more beds are in need of such an overhaul in the next few years, but the group will need help to get it done.
Without fresh volunteers to take over, Karen said she’s afraid the group’s 15 years of hard work will eventually be undone.
“We certainly would welcome additional volunteers,” she said. “If we’re going to sustain the Butterfly Garden, we have to have new people come in, otherwise it fades with us.”
To learn more or to volunteer, email or . For more information about Perth Wildlife Reserve visit www.rvca.ca/conservation-areas. Please note that Perth Wildlife Reserve does not allow dogs.