The Pollinator Preserve

Many native butterflies, moths and insects make their home in the Tyler Arboretum Pollinator Preserve where nectar-rich native plants and host plants provide food and habitat for these populations. Plant labels and interpretive signage share details that help our visitors learn more about ways they too can create a successful pollinator garden at home. With birds and insects in decline, we share the stories of the unique relationships between plants and animals with our visitors. We understand this complex world more with each visit when we slow down and pay attention. We learn how we can each participate in bettering our environment, whether it is by adding more native plants, understanding insect needs, or providing better habitats.  

As we reflect on the second year of the renovated gardens, our biggest goal was to get visitors to spend more time in the surrounding native plant gardens outside of the Butterfly House’s netted confines. This space is a more natural environment, open to many insects and birds that we would never see inside the Butterfly House. Here we measured our success by the variety of insects utilizing the plants for their young, food or shelter throughout the various stages of their life cycles. We also saw beneficial insects helping to control pests. This better reflects what is achievable in the home garden and provides realistic expectations for our visitors’ plans and goals. 

For the first time, the colorful gardens outside of the enclosed Butterfly House were an attraction for our visitors and volunteers because there was so much to discover and experience. Insects of all kinds used our easily accessible plants, many of which were new to the gardens.  For the first time, we watched the caterpillars of the snowberry-clearing hummingbird moth and other sphinx moths hatch and grow. We saw the larvae of lady beetles and green lacewings on our milkweed devouring pesky aphids. The butterflies were abundant as they flew from flower to flower, with many more varieties than were possible inside the Butterfly House. We felt invisible standing in their midst, as they focused their attention entirely on the plants in front of them. Bees, beetles, mantes, true bugs, and wasps found their favorite foods, flowers, and seeds, as did the birds. We found all of the insects in the above photos in the open gardens. 

In the next few years we will provide additional ways for our visitors to support pollinators, knowing we depend on them for a third of our food and so much more. We will be here to help you on your journey, both online and in-person, at the Pollinator Preserve! Scroll down to learn more about our plant designs, articles on various subjects, additional resources, and more!

Many thanks to PECO for their generous program support by funding education in the Pollinator Preserve in 2021 and for providing a roving Garden Education Station in 2022.

Plants provide the foundation of our success and we thank the Hardy Plant Society/Mid-Atlantic Division for providing the funds to purchase these plants in both 2021 and 2022.

Pollinator Blogs and Videos

Design and Plant Lists

Additional Resources