Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

School designs garden to beckon butterflies


Christine Voight's classroom is a long walk from the J.D. Floyd Elementary School front entrance. It sits apart from the main buildings among the trees, the walkway flanked by rectangular stones with green frogs painted on them.

The area in front of her portable classroom is butterfly friendly. It has milkweed, hibiscus, periwinkles, lantana and plumbago. It has fruit trees. Voight recently harvested her first lemon. The area is mulched and tidy.

At the beginning of the school year, the land was as wooded as that behind the classroom. Voight put her environmental students to work. "We started clearing land in August," said seventh-grader Jessica Pulaski, 12.

Students learned to use shovels, rakes and pitchforks. They took out weeds, grass and roots. "Everything was out of it except the sand," said seventh-grader Paul Rader, 14.

Then Voight's seventh- and eighth-grade students transformed the property into the butterfly garden, accented with a waterfall and pond.

"We dug out the hole for the pond while the plants were being put in," said seventh-grader John Katsanakis, 13, who explained that three students were mostly responsible for building the actual pond, "Walter Foster, Kenny Webster and Adam Marriott."

There are more plans for the pond besides aesthetics and the calming sound of falling water. "We're probably going to get some koi," Jessica said.

Everyone else chipped in to create the rest of the garden. "We have a lot of milkweed in here for the butterflies," said Jessica. "We have a lime tree and a lemon tree," added Diego Gomez, 13.

The students put in about 700 flowers, trees and shrubs. "We got grants from Progress Energy and Home Depot," Jessica said.

There was a lot more to the butterfly garden than just putting it in, though. "They've done reports and made replicas of butterflies or birds," Voight said. They have studied monarch butterfly migration, life cycles, anatomy and flight pattern characteristics.

John did his report on the zebra longwings. "I learned a lot about that butterfly," he said. "It's considered the smartest butterfly."

Although reports were a big part of the whole butterfly project, the students say it was the outdoors activities they enjoyed the most. "I liked planting the plants the best, because it brought in new butterflies that we could observe and it definitely brought in color," said seventh-grader Lexie Celt, 13.

"I really enjoyed planting all the trees and it was also a lot of fun making the replica of the birds or butterflies we chose,'' Jessica said. "We learned a lot about their physical features."

Seventh-grade Jenna Kelly, 12, also liked being outside. "I liked going out every day and seeing the new chrysalises on the new plants," she said.

Paul liked the physical side of the project. "My favorite part was helping out with all the work," he said. "I helped to dig."

Now that the garden is in, it requires maintenance. The students rake, weed and water. There are two sprinklers, but watering is done by hand, too.

Another project, this time for birds, has already taken students out behind the portable into the woods. They call it Phase II. They are identifying tree clusters for bird and butterfly boxes. "We're going to build paths," said Lexie.

"This will be a great bird habitat," said John.

School designs garden to beckon butterflies 04/16/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 17, 2008 9:52am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Sputtering Rays keep falling one run short

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Even going into play against the Angels on Tuesday just a game under .500 at 23-24, the Rays have some issues they have to resolve.

    Rays starter Alex Cobb waits for Mike Trout to finish his trot after homering to give the Angels a 2-0 lead.
  2. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared


    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.

  3. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  4. Suspicious device at Pinellas Park home was a spent artillery round, police say

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — Bomb squad investigators determined that a "suspicious device" found at a Pinellas Park home Tuesday afternoon was a spent artillery round, police said.

  5. NFL rewards Tampa Bay's track record, preparation with another Super Bowl


    Tampa Bay got lucky on Tuesday.

    We are getting a Super Bowl. We are getting a Super Bowl that we weren't supposed to get. We're getting a Super Bowl that we once were told we wouldn't get.

    Then came good luck.

     Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer (left) and son Edward Glazer celebrate the Bucs win and their upcoming trip to San Diego and the Super Bowl.  

[Bill Serne | Times]