Alpine Garden club held its annual Water Wise and Butterflies event on May 7 in the garden at Christ the King Episcopal church, the first since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tables were laden with native plants, pollinators and succulents for sale before and after the featured attraction of the day: hundreds of butterflies being released at exactly noon.
“We started with 250 plants and a whole table of succulents. We’ve already sold out of all the California milkweed and we’ve only just started,” Hinchcliff said with a smile about 15 minutes before the butterfly release.
Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed.
Just before noon, the small crowd of families and gardeners began checking their watches and phones to keep track of time.
On cue, Alpine Garden Club Vice President Hilde Hinchcliff opened a soft, cube-shaped net and monarchs came forth in a blaze of orange color. Some quickly flew out while others clung to the net, gently encouraged by Hinchcliff to explore a table full of plants.
Children squealed with delight, squatting low to try and pick up any butterflies that chose the churchyard floor instead of a plant for their first landing. For about 20 minutes, youngsters and teens alike stretched out their arms in the hopes a butterfly would land on them.
In the meantime, the garden club members continued to sell native plants and pollinators, plants that draw butterflies, birds and bees at the once again-annual fundraiser.
One long table was lined with succulents, all donated by Marge Bellencourt and Linda Lockwood. Leftover succulents would be distributed to members, Hinchcliff said.
Cathy Heany touted the benefits of buying native plants as patrons carried off their green purchases.
“If you have plants that are native to the area, you don’t have to amend the soil for the environment and they thrive with less care,” Heany said.
All of the plants were water wise, intended to use very little water in the Mediterranean climate of East County.
Coming up next, the garden club is planning a fashion show fundraiser for mid-September. Visit www.alpinegardenclub.org or email Hinchcliff at email@example.com for more information on the club.