SPRING CREEK NATURE PARK
& BUTTERFLY GARDEN
It's Yours to Experience
Spring Creek Nature Park & Butterfly Garden is a serene place to relax, enjoy and learn about the marvels of nature, a myriad of butterfly species, birds and native and wild plants. It is "a place to meditate, celebrate, educate and dedicate" oneself to the joys and awe of nature right here in Pelican Landing.
Location: See the Butterfly Garden Map for location and directions.
Hours: Anytime is a good time to experience nature. The best time to see butterflies is anytime it is light, when the temperature is over 70 degrees F and it's not too windy.
● Click here to see pictures from our garden.
● Click here for a list of Advisory Group Members
Every Wednesday @ 9-11am, the Weekly Garden Gathering with fellow enthusiasts, master naturalists and master gardeners allows everyone a chance to learn more about our native plants and the 'flying flowers' they attract.
Knowledgeable volunteers provide formal and informal tours of the garden. Specific education programs have been set up. Watch the Pelican Landing Friday email for announcements as to when these programs will be conducted.
Garden markers are placed throughout the garden, making plant identification easy. The markers contain both the common name and the botanical name of the plant. They also identify whether the plant is nectar and/or host plant and the particular butterfly species that are attracted to it.
What makes up the Butterfly Garden?
The park is a unique combination of three different eco-zones that make up an eco-tone. The three zones are the mangroves, the meadow area and a pine stand all compressed into less than half an acre. This provides an opportunity to attract more butterflies, see more diverse plant varieties and wildlife and experience a truly native environment. Tucked next to Spring Creek by the marina and fishing docks, the park provides a wonderful location to view water birds, jumping mullet, turtles, an occasional alligator and beautiful sunsets.
Protecting Butterflies, Birds and Native Plants
There are approximately 150 species of butterflies in Florida--105 in Southern Florida and 79 in Southwest Florida. Some are diminishing in number because of the expanded road & real estate development that has destroyed their native habitat. Our goal is two-fold--preserve what habitat we can and encourage the propagation and appreciation of these beautiful 'flying flowers' and other fauna indigenous to the area. Twenty-three (23) butterfly species have been identified in the Garden to date:
This prolific and varied butterfly population count was achieved by initially planting some fifteen different species of host plants (those that only a specific butterfly species will lay their eggs on); and then adding a mix of thirty-five different nectar plants (these are the colorful blooming plants that initially attract the adult butterflies and provide food for their flight and mating appetites); all together, close to 300 plants were added to the area. Of this number, only three species were non-native due to their hosting necessity--Dutchman's Pipevine (Polydamas), Scarlet Milkweed (Monarch and Queen) and Pentas (Gulf Fritillary and others).
Click here to fill out our Volunteer Form. We’d love for you to join us in this relaxing and rewarding activity.
The garden you see and enjoy was built and is maintained by volunteers with the help of the CDD. It was paid for with the dollars donated by Pelican Landing residents. Volunteers are the backbone of our amenity. The 'Weekly Garden Gatherings' are when we tend our garden, discuss new ideas, learn about the plants and butterflies and share in good fellowship.
One day we received a call from one of our volunteers. They couldn't believe their eyes. They counted thirty-two Polydamas caterpillars covering the Dutchman's Pipevine on the main entrance pergola--a virtual prickly black and orange army of eating machines. The vines were just starting to cover the pergola, a few days later it was bare, there wasn't a leaf left on the two climbing vines. But not long after, a squadron of black and yellow chevroned Polydamas butterflies emerged and circled the garden, sipping nectar from the flowers and looking for mates to start the cycle all over again.
The special pond and waterfall--designed and built by volunteer Dan Ricks and his crew--is a great place to sit and relax. Surrounded in back by green hedges of purple flowered Porter Weed and Scarlet Penta, it is both soothing and full of life. Tadpoles and frogs have made it their home thanks to the many birds that have stopped by to make a deposit. The pond's waterfall, day blooming lilies and other plants help to filter the water and suppress algae growth. We think the nocturnal action must be pretty exciting too--raccoons, bobcats, owls, deer, baby alligators and moths are some of the possibilities.
Potting Bench Area
A Planting Station complete with a potting bench and potting supplies allows us to propagate our own plants, contributing to a more sustainable garden. The garden's tool storage bin is located there, and there is a bulletin board for current volunteer news and the recording of daily sightings of butterflies and birds. This is all enclosed by two trellises with climbing plants, that help it blend into the landscape and provide more butterfly host and nectar plants.
Under the oak and pine trees on the nature path is a screened-in lanai-type structure. This is where we raise butterflies. The nursery provides protection from predators so they can't eat or destroy the eggs, caterpillars and chrysalises. It also allows viewing of the metamorphosis process and is great fun for our volunteers and visitors alike.
A Community Asset
● The garden provides positive publicity for Pelican Landing via articles with photos in local newspapers--The Banner, Estero Weekender and Fort Myers News-Press. Based on emails and conversations with visitors at the park, there is a real sense of pride in what we have created together through community financial support and volunteerism.
● The garden increases property values. Many other gated communities throughout Florida and our region in particular like Bonita Bay, Pelican Preserve, Copperleaf, Spring Run and others include their butterfly gardens as important amenities that add value and attract buyers.
● The nature park is a laboratory and educational facility that allows residents to acquire knowledge to create and enhance their own native landscapes and butterfly gardens. Both of which are sustainable landscape options because they are drought- and disease-resistant. Our own volunteers, with periodic assistance from the CDD, maintain the garden and enjoy a hands-on learning experience.
● Our native garden has a natural look by design and necessity that gives a feeling of being in the wild. Native butterfly gardens treat many weeds and wild flowers as part of the propagation process. They are different from our manicured lawns, formal gardens and parkways for these reasons, and they add a new dimension to the way we view and experience the environment.
● Our garden provides education on the dangers of exotic/invasive plants that need to be removed in order to preserve the pristine landscape we enjoy.
Enjoy Your Park & Butterfly Garden
Ideas for how to get the most enjoyment out of your trip to the garden:
● Spend some time there, bring a bottle of water; relax on one of the many benches or chairs that are provided or the picnic table, where you can enjoy a soda, a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and a snack with friends and family. Just sit and watch and nature will reward you.
● Walk around with one of the laminated butterfly identification cards (please return to holder in the main pergola before you leave). Read the plant markers to learn which are nectar and which are host plants and which butterflies lay their eggs on which plant. Start your own 'Plant Patrol' and see how many eggs and caterpillars you can discover and identify. The entrance sign provides a large-format study of indigenous butterfly species and the metamorphosis process. Most importantly though, take your time, watch, learn and enjoy!
● Bring your camera and get some great pictures of some of Florida’s most beautiful butterflies share with us.
If you want to enhance your experience even further, here are more suggestions:
● Become a volunteer, a garden guide, a gardener. Help run the volunteer and education program, work on special projects and events, maintain the plants and build the butterfly population. Fill out a volunteer information form available at the garden or the Community Center. Click here to become a volunteer.
● Sign up for one of the several educational programs being offered. Watch for these activities on the Events Calendar (see bottom of page).
● And don't forget the Weekly Garden Gathering every Wednesday @ 9-11am at the Butterfly Garden--it's a great place to get started.
Other Butterfly and Native Plant Websites
North American Butterfly Association: www.naba.org
Monarch Watch: www.monarchwatch.org
Florida Native Plant Society: www.fnps.org
Lee County Extension Service: lee.ifas.ufl.edu
The Crooked Garden at Pelican Preserve: www.crookedgarden.com
Butterfly Fun Facts: www.butterflyfunfacts.com
Butterfly Garden Calendar