Thursday, August 11, 2011

Festival of Butterflies 2011

Here's some scenes from Powell Gardens during our 15th annual Festival of Butterflies. The festival opens Friday at 9:00a.m. (August 12) and runs daily through Sunday (August 14) from 9am to 6pm.

A Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides) visits overripe fruit treats in the conservatory and color echos stunningly with a bromeliad bloom which is just one of many tropical plants on display too. (photo by Betsy Betros)

Blue Morpho's colors are from grooved scales on their wings that refract light -- that is why they appear to shimmer. The scale structure on their wings has helped us create better digital photography technology (like your camera phone!).

When Blue Morphos land they usually keep their wings closed and show this unique pattern of browns and eye spots. Many visitors pause to see if resting butterflies will open their wings for a photo opportunity.

Our Bird-of-Paradise is in bloom in the conservatory so look for its stunning flower as well -- the national flower of South Africa where it grows wild. (photo by Betsy Betros)

Yes we have unique tropical moths in the Conservatory like this Rothschild Silkmoth (Rothschildia lebeau) from Costa Rica. Its Spanish name translates to "Four Windows" as the center of each wing has a large eye spot that is like celophane. We do have a few Atlas Moths but none has emerged yet -- we will post that occasion on Facebook and Twitter as soon as one is out! (photo by Betsy Betros)

This is a picture of one of our figs (Ficus carica) outside in the Heartland Harvest Garden but you can see that under a leaf is a Zebra Swallowtail resting during one of our rainy spells during the festival. Most butterflies find shelter like this during rain or inclement weather. (photo by Betsy Betros)

Visitors peruse our collection of butterflies and moths on display in the Caterpillar Experience room. (photo by Betsy Betros)

Brett Budach (volunteer) visits with guests about some of our many live caterpillars on display in the Caterpillar Experience. (photo by Betsy Betros)

Here visitors are enamored by our Carolina Sphinx caterpillars; a.k.a. "tobacco hornworms." We had the complete life cycle of these unique moth from egg to caterpillar, pupae and moth on display. (photo by Betsy Betros)

Don't miss the parade each festival day at 11:00 a.m. and walk with our Caterpillar float that was created by volunteer Master Naturalist Linda Williams. It is in the likeness of the Cecropia Moth caterpillar which is the largest moth in North America. You can see the real live caterpillar in both the Caterpillar Experience and Caterpillar Petting Zoo. (photo by Betsy Betros)

We still are a botanical garden and the grounds abound with flowers even after the blazing heat and drought we are and have experienced. Here are some pink and white Queen Anne's-lace (Daucus carota) blooming near the Chapel trolley stop.

This Vertigo (TM) Fountain Grass (Pennisetum hybrid) outside the cafe is also a stunning plant surviving the harsh season and being one of the finest foliage grasses we've ever seen.

Crape Myrtles are another flowering plant that relished our HOT weather and are currently in bloom around the gardens. This is the cultivar 'Hopi' near the south side of the Visitor Center.

Sweet Coneflowers (Rudbeckia subtomentosa) are a native wildflower that has also done well through this hot, dry spell and are in bloom in the "insectary" gardens around the Fountain.

A visit to Powell Gardens during the Festival of Butterflies guarantees a close encounter with a butterfly or moth and any of its miraculous metamorphosis stages (egg, caterpillar, chrysalis or cocoon, and the adult butterfly or moth). Be sure and enjoy the Dinosaurs of our Jurassic Journey as it there last weekend on display (Sunday is the LAST day for dinosaurs); and don't forget to just enjoy the beauty and bounty of the gardens from a trip to the Heartland Harvest Garden's observation silo to a splash in the Fountain Garden, peak bloom of waterlilies on the Island Garden, to a bit of solace in our E. Fay Jones designed Chapel -- what better place to spend one of the last days of summer!

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