Our membership with the Missouri Botanical Gardens expired recently. I was about to renew when I thought to myself, why not join the nearest botanical garden instead, the National Butterfly Center. They are nearby, but most importantly: they can use the money. MOBOT as they are known in Missouri have a much larger member base than the Butterfly Center, and they have been around for a long time — as a former boss might have said it, “Since Hector was a pup.”
So it was that Tuesday we hopped in the car and made the hour long drive to Mission Texas and The National Butterfly Center to sign up as members. Let me appeal to you once again about botanic gardens. There are a good number of them around the countryside. They are resources of immeasurable value and for a paltry sum you can not only support their work, but if you are like us and enjoy visiting botanic gardens to see what’s growing, to see how it’s grown, and to get ideas about how one might improve their own garden — then consider joining your own local garden.
The gardens which are affiliated with the American Horticultural Society have reciprocal arrangements whereby members in one garden gain some benefit at other gardens. This can be free admission, free parking, discounts at the gift shop, discounts for special exhibits — each garden decides for itself how to administer the reciprocal program. The vagaries of such an individually administered program notwithstanding, Peg & I have found that our membership in any one garden more than pays for itself in gratis admissions to gardens during the year. And this year we opted to move our support from a garden that has a lot of members to one that could use some help. And, for our trouble we’ll be able to visit the gardens near our travels for the next 12 months. A family (2 party) membership cost us all of $60 for a year. We’ll spend much more than that this year in individual entry fees otherwise.
I mentioned the National Butterfly Center in January when our daughter was visiting. Let me talk a little more about them because they are a great resource for butterfly friendly plantings; their site is all un-contained garden space so that the migrating and resident butterflies can come and go as they choose. In January not much was blooming. This visit there were a lot more butterflies fluttering by, and we had a lovely visit. You can learn a lot about different species — they have recorded almost 100 species each month since January 1 — and see them for yourself. You can also buy plants to attract them, or just learn about the plants so you can make your own gardening choices.
I took some iPhone snaps because we are formulating some ideas for our house — while they are just utility shots in my mind they will give you an idea of the colors and beauty.
I should warn you that the garden is young, and still very much in development. They have a long term plan but I’m sure their long-term will be longer than many of us might like to see — unless they get some significant money. But, it’s a good cause and a great place to hang out for a while. If you’re down this way — and have time to spare — go look at some butterflies.