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Butterfly, hummingbird exhibit nearing completion
Display will be at Wilshire Trails Park in Gainesville
Steven Ausburn, with Gainesville Parks and Recreation, packs down dirt around the base of one of the signs he installed Thursday in Wilshire Trails Park for the new butterfly and hummingbird exhibit and garden. - photo by Tom Reed

Lori Carson started planning for a butterfly and hummingbird exhibit in Gainesville more than a year ago.

On Thursday, she watched as city of Gainesville workers put final touches on the project.

"Oh, I'm so excited," said Carson, former president of the Hall County Master Gardeners. "This is going to be something the kids are going to love."

The outdoor exhibit is at Wilshire Trails Park, site of the city's annual butterfly release.

In two garden beds, Carson has put plants that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Some are host plants, such as Butterfly Weed, where the butterflies will lay their eggs. Others are nectar plants, such as Lantana, which the butterflies and hummingbirds will use for food.

On Thursday, workers installed colorful signs Carson said are geared toward kids.

One gives interesting facts about butterflies (the adult lifespan is six to 20 days) and another gives tidbits about hummingbirds (their heart rate can reach 1,260 beats per minute).

There's also a welcome sign and one showing the most common butterflies and hummingbirds found in the area. Another sign gives tips for creating a similar garden at home.

"We thought the kids could learn if we made this colorful and fun," Carson said. "But the adults will like it, too."

Carson secured $1,300 in grant money for the project through the Georgia and Hall County Master Gardener associations.

Parks and recreation officials are also planning to put two benches near the site so people can sit and watch the wildlife.

Carson said this exhibit is an ideal project for the Master Gardeners. The group's main goal is to educate, and hopefully families and schools will take advantage of the site as an educational tool, she said.

Jeff Butler, the parks division manager, said the exhibit will also tie in well with the annual butterfly release.
A few plants are still being ordered, but in the spring the exhibit will be in full bloom.

"They should come in droves, the butterflies and hummingbirds," Carson said. "There should be a ton of them around the plants."


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