When David Shakarian first began planning Bonita Bay, one can only wonder if his mind’s eye envisioned everything that this distinguished community offers today – over 30 years later. Almost certainly he may not have considered the ethereal addition of a specified habitat for one pleasant floaty creature; a garden dedicated to the propagation of butterflies.
Butterfly Garden History
According to Steve Pietrzyk, former director of grounds maintenance operations for Bonita Bay Properties, the scope of planning the Butterfly Garden began in the mid-90s. “Back then, everyone wanted to be here (Bonita Bay) and we were always looking for new and cool things to do – things that were ‘award-worthy.’ At the time, there were no high-rises and visiting Estero Bay Park was like traveling to the ends of the earth!”, says Pietrzyk.
With a degree in landscape design and management, Pietrzyk drafted the original design of the Butterfly Garden and presented to the design review committee, of which he was a member.
He adds, “The design review team really questioned creating a butterfly garden. They (butterfly gardens) are inherently ugly when only food and nectar sources are utilized, and this one needed to be visually appealing to entice residents to want to visit and spend time there.” As part of the planning process, the food and nectar sources were scattered throughout the garden, along with other ornamental plants. In addition, a water feature and decorative archway were added near the entrance of the garden to offer visual appeal and invite exploration.
Estero Bay Park was the chosen location for this project as it was unlike the other two on-site parks. It included historical sites (midden traps and an archeological site) plus, it had the space necessary to incorporate a unique and private butterfly sanctuary.
With the assistance and support of the Bonita Bay Garden Club, the dream began to take shape. The grounds crew completed the installation and all the signs throughout the garden were donated by the Bonita Bay Garden Club.
From MonarchWatch.org, each fall, millions of monarch butterflies migrate from the northern United States to wintering areas in Mexico and Florida where they spend the winter in warmth until conditions favor a return flight in the spring. The monarch migration is truly one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, yet it is threatened by habitat loss in North America, which is why Monarch Waystations are critical to the survival of these fantastic insects.
Adding to an already distinguished list of attributes, namely an Audubon Certified Cooperative Sanctuary since 2004, Bonita Bay now proudly boasts certification as a registered Monarch Waystation!
What is a Monarch Waystation? Simply stated a monarch waystation is a place that provides resources necessary for monarchs to successfully reproduce to sustain their annual migration. Monarchs require milkweeds and nectar-producing flowers in order to fuel their migratory journeys to and from their wintering grounds. The concern is overall, milkweeds and nectar sources are declining due to continued development and the widespread use of herbicides. By creating and maintaining a Monarch Waystation, Bonita Bay is contributing to monarch conservation, an effort that will help assure the preservation of the species and the continuation of the spectacular monarch migration phenomenon.
Introducing Peggy Kilby
Bonita Bay Community Association grounds department welcomes Margaret Kilby (Peggy for short!) as the new annuals technician. In her new position and after being introduced to the community, Peggy began researching Florida butterflies, host plants and nectar plants when she discovered a website about monarchs. It was here that Peggy learned about Monarch Waystations and applied for certification.
As a kid growing up in western New York, I have always been fascinated by the amazing things that nature offers – everything is connected. The monarch butterfly is only one example of the interconnectedness between plants and the organisms on which they thrive. As the Bonita Bay annuals technician, I am pleased to promote the narrative of “living with nature.”
– Peggy Kilby
The soon-to-be-installed Monarch Waystation sign states: This site provides milkweeds, nectar sources, and shelter needed to sustain monarch butterflies as they migrate through North America. Certified and registered by Monarch Watch as an office Monarch Waystation. Create, conserve, and protect monarch habitats.
After much destruction to the Butterfly Garden from Hurricane Irma, there was a massive clean-up in the area and the butterflies proliferated this summer! Residents and their guests are invited to visit the refurbished Butterfly Garden in Estero Bay Park to personally witness the transformation – and hopefully, catch a glimpse or two of the local residents.
To view butterflies in action, watch the Butterfly Video