January 18th, 2020

Buds and Blooms: John’s Butterfly House is a treasure in our city

By Bev Crawford on August 3, 2019.

We have some very interesting tourist attractions in this south east corner of our province: The Saamis Tepee (the world’s largest it has been said); our historic past presented in the Medicine Hat Museum, Art Gallery and Esplanade; our industrial history at Medalta; a great hike through Red Rock Coulee; Dinosaur Provincial Park; the nature centre at Police Point Park; the historical farm site at Echo Dale is a good place for a picnic and swim; my son Eric says the Family Leisure Centre is the most fun pool across the country; and we just held the exciting annual Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede.

How many of these adventures have you been to? Wonders of your adventures make life fun!

There is one very local oasis that I’d like to invite you to take in. John’s Butterfly House has been an attraction, with people visiting from around the world, since April 1, 2012. Many tourist comments in our guest book rate John’s Butterfly House as better or comparable to the best they have seen.

Some couples have chosen this location to exchange their wedding vows! Many local school children have had the exciting experience of an educated tour with Monica or Jenn, our butterfly enthusiasts. I love to hear their knowledge and excitement because they know where the eggs get laid, which caterpillars eat which host plants, and the names of all the tropical butterflies they tend to. Just ask them.

When the shipment of chrysalides arrives, they are glued up in the emerging room window. You can relax on the observation deck and watch the insects emerge, pump their wings full of blood, and be ready to take flight. It is fascinating!

As you stroll the wooden walkway through this relaxing oasis you will see the largest selection of tropical plants in the city, many for sale in the greenhouse. There are red-eared turtles sunning themselves on the bank of the pond that is home to many large koi fish. Songbirds flutter throughout the trees. Quail scatter through the undergrowth, eating insects. All the while you hear the peaceful waterfall and observe the dancing butterflies fluttering about. At any given time there may be at least a dozen different types from the popular Owl, the Malachite, and Orange Tip Sulpher or the black and white Paper Kite. They are all exquisite!

Here is a perennial house story for you! This season we discovered some caterpillars wrapped up in a slight bit of webbing on the holly-hock leaves. The black balls in their little nests were poop! These little multi-coloured creatures were feasting on the leaves. We left them alone when Jenn informed us that they were Painted Lady Butterfly larvae. When I photographed the first butterfly I saw I also noticed, on the leaf under it, was the empty chrysalis it had just emerged from! The tiniest things in life are pretty exciting.

You are invited to take a one day family vacation to John’s Butterfly House, enjoy an ice cream cone or specialty coffee and also take advantage of the great sales in the greenhouse as we prepare to close at the end of our season. Perhaps a lucky butterfly will land on your nose – that’s what I like to tell the children!

Bev Crawford is the Perennial House Manager at The Windmill Garden Centre and John’s Butterfly House.

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