AVON — They’re among nature’s most delicate creatures.
And they’ll be the featured attraction of the Lorain County Metro Parks’ Miller Nature Preserve’s new Butterfly House, which opens Saturday in the recently completed Outdoor Garden.
The garden surrounds the park’s outdoor patio cafe, which complements the 70-seat Orchid Room indoor cafe that serves lunch and early dinner menu of salads, soups, sandwiches and other dishes 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Visitors have lots to hold their attention and please the eye as they dine or walk a trail that winds through arbors of grapevines and wisteria on its way to a wheeled rose garden.
A labyrinth herb garden is just outside the entrance to the butterfly house.
The labyrinth design was inspired by those found in classic English gardens, according to Jim Ziemnik, parks director.
Part of the mission of the Butterfly House, which is home to monarchs and other varieties, is to offer useful information to visitors wishing to attract butterflies to their own yards.
A key example is park manager Linda Paull’s advice.
“If you can only plant one bush, make it a butterfly bush. They produce lots of blooms and really draw butterflies.”
One of a handful of enclosed butterfly habitats in Northeast Ohio, the new Miller Preserve is also home to zebra longwings, which sport black wings with yellow, zebra-like stripes.
Great care is taken to mix brightly colored perennial and annual flowers inside the Butterfly House to attract the creatures. Blocks of color including red, yellow, pink, orange and purple work best, according to Paull.
Other tidbits from the preserve’s in-house butterfly experts include that butterflies taste with their feet, and most varieties live only two to three weeks.
The structure was built to meet state and federal standards that include double sets of doors spaced 10 feet apart to serve as “air locks” of sorts to protect the butterflies inside and keep them from leaving while keeping unwanted creatures out.
Other key elements of the Miller Nature Preserve include: the 5,000-square-foot conservatory, home to “house plants gone wild” that thrive in a meticulous recreation of their native habitats, according to Rich Snyder, the preserve’s greenhouse technician.
One example of this wild growth is the tallest living thing in the greenhouse, an 18- to 20-foot spindle palm tree weighing about 1,000 pounds.
“It took 13 people to carry it in here,” Snyder said.
Other highlights include the gorgeous orchid collection of Dr. Ibrahim Eren.
Also in the preserve is the Nature Nook Gift Shop, which sells nature-inspired gifts, plants and other garden-related items.
A heron copper sculpture waterfall was recently dedicated to longtime Metro Parks assistant director Becky Voit, who retired earlier this year, ending 34 years of service to the parks.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or email@example.com.