The Butterfly Garden (South Bergenite)

   New Jersey Meadowlands Commission staffer Jim Wright wrote about the Jill Ann Ziemkiewicz Butterfly Garden in this week's edition of the South Bergenite,

   Full story follows.


    Of all the natural attractions at DeKorte Park, my favorite this time of year just might be the Jill Ann Ziemkiewicz Butterfly Garden, which is now marking its 10th anniversary.
I love the garden for four reasons: the butterflies, the flowers, the birds and the relaxation.
   The butterflies and the flowers are self-evident – just stop by the garden on a sunny day and you should be able to enjoy plenty of both.
    The coneflowers, butterfly bushes and trumpet vines are just a few of the plants in bloom these days, and the butterflies are beginning to appear in greater numbers and greater variety.
   In the past few weeks we have seen at least 10 species, including Eastern tiger swallowtails, red admirals and several types of skippers. We might even see a great-spangled fritillary one of these days.
    The birds and the relaxation aren't much more difficult to find – and they tend to go hand in hand, if that’s not a mixed metaphor.
   Toward the end of the day, when there’s less foot traffic at the nearby Meadowlands Environment Center, the birds like to bathe in the hand-carved limestone fountain at the center of the Butterfly Garden . If you sit on a bench outside the garden, you can watch the avian parade through binoculars. 
   On hot sunny days in recent weeks, we have seen bird after bird take a splash, including cedar waxwings, Baltimore orioles, a yellow warbler and American goldfinches (our state bird).  
   With bathing birds and butterflies fluttering among the colorful flowers, the 50- by 80-foot garden is a centerpiece attraction at the Lyndhurst park. When relaxing on the benches near the bubbling fountain, you feel like you're on a small isle of tranquility amid the hustle and bustle of northern New Jersey.
   The garden was built to honor the memory of Jill Ann Ziemkiewicz, a 23-year-old Rutherford resident and the youngest member of the flight crew assigned to TWA Flight 800, which crashed into the ocean off Long Island on July 17, 1996.
   Ziemkiewicz loved picking flowers as a child, and her family thought a garden – built near where she grew up, would be a great way to honor her memory.
   The fountain in the garden’s center is shaped like a sunflower, Jill’s favorite. Every year around the anniversary, her loved ones leave sunflowers at the garden in her memory.  
    The garden also has a nice feeling of serendipity. You just never know what might pop up — no matter what the season.
   In the past couple of years we have seen everything from praying mantises on the trellis to beautiful mushroom clusters nearby.
   Please stop by anytime, and see for yourself – or visit during Butterfly Day on Sunday, July 25. Be sure to pick up a copy of our new free DeKorte Park Butterfly Guide while you’re here.  

NJMC Communications Officer Jim Wright maintains the Commission’s daily nature blog, – featuring beautiful photography and the latest info on the region’s abundant natural wonders.



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