Residents and staff at Crossroads Memory Care in Lakewood were treated to a presentation on pollinators and a planting event for a native species garden in their courtyard on June 28.
Since 2002, the Butterfly Pavilion's Healthy Habitats Gardening program has provided this experience to over 3,000 individuals at 62 different facilities in the Denver metro area.
Over the course of a year, participants learn about habitat gardening, engage in horticulture therapy and enjoy the activity of pollinators visiting flowers.
Participants receive social benefits from interacting with one another and with the program volunteers. These gardens also provide habitat for native butterflies along the Front Range of Colorado, where rapid development has caused populations to decline.
This program, which was recognized with the Citizen/Community Award from Colorado Alliance of Environmental Education in 2010, has continued to draw interest from centers throughout the Denver metro area.
Between 4-6 facilities are selected each year, based on resident interest and site availability. Butterfly Pavilion educators present a fun and informational talk about pollinators and gardens to each facility in the spring, then horticulture staff and volunteers come to the facility in the summer to plant native perennials that attract pollinators. These garden programs and habitat gardens may reach dozens of residents at each site, and the gardens remain part of the facility for as long as the community desires.
Crossroads Director of Marketing and Admissions Alan Davis said staff and residents were excited to take part in the program.
"Not only can our residents get engaged with the courtyard garden, but they can share what they've learned with friends and family that come to visit," he said. "It really gives them a sense of pride to show off the type of activities and programs they get to be a part of."
Butterfly Pavilion staff and volunteers visit each facility later in the summer to bring a butterfly kit and check on the success of the garden and engagement of the residents.
Residents get to raise painted lady butterflies to adulthood, so that they can release them in the garden. At the end of the year, Butterfly Pavilion sends out evaluations to rate the satisfaction of the community with the program. By the following spring, the community is encouraged to report on the overwintering survival of the garden perennials.
Butterfly Pavilion's Director of Communications and Marketing Jennifer Quermann said activity directors of participating facilities seen seniors in their communities become more active and notice more about the natural world, as well as spending more time outdoors after taking part in the program.