Butterfly Garden Gets a Decorative Wall

Soon Diana and Monarch butterflies will lay their eggs on milkweed and violet plants thanks to a collaboration between The Calico Rock Community Foundation, Calico Rock Mayor Greg Hamby, and the North Central Arkansas Master Naturalists (NCAMN). These organizations came together to build a beautiful retaining wall around the newly planted pollinator garden at the green Rodman Street Parking Lot in Calico Rock.
“What could be better to help wild butterflies thrive than planting a pollinator garden at a parking lot that was built to work with nature?” said Steven Mitchell, Chairman of the Foundation Board. “Our group is looking for anything that will improve life in our town. In years to come we picture butterflies in all stages of life using this garden to grow and thrive.”
It’s a win-win situation. Tourists can sit on the beautiful wall, watch pollinator species at work and take a nature break before returning to their busy lives or reliving history on Main Street.
The idea started months ago when the Rodman Street Parking Lot was given to the foundation by Linda Boulton and Mark Tew. While they recognized the need for parking for the growing community, they also wanted to preserve the natural landscape of the community. There was a patch of dirt that didn’t have a use along Rodman Avenue. A Calico Rock Master Naturalist driving by had a bright idea: why not put a pollinator garden in the empty space.
After several conversations with the foundation, it was agreed that NCAMN would manage the planting and care of the garden which were expanded to the area below the parking lot . Several months into the weed killing and planting process it became obvious that the pollinator garden plot was washing downhill. Mayor Hamby was contacted and agreed to supply help in the form of prisoners trained in bricklaying. The foundation paid for the wall and the Master Naturalists stopped losing expensive seed and dirt down the hillside.
Without all three groups working together, the garden wall, which will benefit tourism, prevent erosion, and lessen the need to mow and trim a piece of land that is hard to maintain, would never have come about. Hart’s Cottage Florals and Bistro have allowed the naturalists to use their water until the wild bergamot, milkweeds, spiderworts, violets and other native plants get rooted.
In a few years, the plot, along with others yet to be planted in the Main Street area, will become a nesting place where the endangered Arkansas State Butterflies, the Diana fritillaries, Monarchs, and other butterflies can lay eggs. This not only benefits wildlife and pollination of other plants, but local children can watch the miracle of beautiful bronze and black butterflies unfolding their wings from tiny chrysalises and continue their life cycles.
Good things happened because members of our town wanted to make things better and saw an opportunity.