CHESHIRE — Two butterfly gardens and a memorial garden will be part of the West Main Street trail crossing thanks to a local group formed earlier this year.
Gary Richards, founder and executive director of Cheshire West Community Butterfly Gardens, and other volunteers have gathered plants and nearly finished the gardens near where state crews are working on connecting the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in the center of town.
“I wanted to bring a butterfly garden to my hometown,” he said.
The group is planting milkweeds in the two butterfly gardens as they’re the only plants on which monarch butterflies will lay eggs. Other native plants were chosen to encourage the presence of bees, hummingbirds and other animals.
The third garden will be in memory of Michaela Petit and will feature her favorite flower, Four O’Clock’s. Richards said he suggested the idea to the Petit Family Foundation and received approval. The garden will feature benches and a more closed-off layout.
“It’s going to be very much a reflective area,” Richards said.
He met with state officials to get permission for the gardens and was glad that his idea was well received. Since that effort started earlier this year, his group has started butterfly habitats at local businesses which he hopes will encourage the monarch butterfly population and beautify the town.
Richards wants to revive a butterfly habitat at Doolittle School, allowing children to watch a butterfly grow from a caterpillar.
The state’s crossing just south of West Main Street will include a 12-space parking lot, picnic tables and benches. It’s planned to open in September.
“It’s such a wonderful space they’re creating. It’s almost like a mini park,” Richards said.
William Bonaminio, chairman of the town’s beautification committee, was excited about the prospect of butterfly-attracting plants near the trail crossing. He’s also found that milkweed is a great way to draw butterflies but said there’s a host of native plants that will attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.
“I like to see this,” Bonaminio said. “I’m glad people are doing something to try to get butterflies.”