Current News and Events

Ocean City’s Butterfly Gardens Getting Ready to Welcome Visitors

Ocean City’s Butterfly Gardens Getting Ready to Welcome Visitors

By mvitale, OCNJDAILY

Ocean City has not one, not two, but three monarch butterfly gardens, courtesy of the city’s Environmental Commission members and some other nature lovers, including local students who have helped to create them.

The pollinator gardens, also called the monarch butterfly gardens, are at the Bayside Center and on the grounds of the United Methodist Communities at The Shores senior living facility and the Ocean City Tabernacle

Environmental Commission Chairman Rick Bernardini said Tuesday that he’d like to see more of the gardens, emphasizing the importance of them.

“The gardens are very beneficial to nature because they are pollinator gardens,” Bernardini noted. “While we focus on monarch butterflies because the milkweeds we plant and other plants attract them, the gardens are also good for bees and other insects to cross pollinate flowers from bushes, trees and shrubs.”

(Video courtesy of Ocean City)

Through the offseason, the volunteers have kept up the gardens, mostly cleaning up the site, Bernardini pointed out.

“There are four of us from the commission that maintain the gardens. We all take turns stopping by and taking out the weeds. While I am riding my bike or taking a walk, I’ll stop by a garden to de-weed it,” he said.

Just because the butterflies and other insects aren’t there in the winter season doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of work to be done to make sure the gardens are in good condition for when they do arrive, he pointed out.

“We continue to maintain them through the year. We harvest the seeds, take out the weeds and get the gardens ready to show off for people who want to stop by,” Bernardini said.

This past weekend they added a couple of lavender bushes to the gardens.

“We de-weeded and had mulch delivered today,” Bernardini said. “It is pretty.”

He noted that the commission welcomes families to stop by the gardens to explore and enjoy the beauty of nature and also learn about the importance of the gardens.

Bernardini underscored the importance of the gardens to not only nature but also for educating the community about the benefits of the gardens.

“The kids get the hands-on experience and they learn how plants contribute to the well-being of the planet,” he said.

Preschoolers help create a butterfly garden at the Ocean City Tabernacle in 2021. (Photo courtesy of the Ocean City Environmental Commission)

In October of 2021, the environmental commission and preschoolers from the Ocean City Tabernacle’s ARK preschool, 550 Wesley Ave., made a monarch butterfly garden.

The following year, in June of 2022, volunteers and children from the Discovery World Preschool along with members of the Ocean City High School Student Environmental Association planted milkweed in the butterfly garden at the Bayside Center at 520 Bay Ave.

The creation of the butterfly garden at the Bayside Center was overseen by the Ocean City Environmental Commission in partnership with the city’s government. The project was funded by a 2022 Open Space Stewardship Grant from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions.

Bernardini also said that the environmental commission and the city could help anyone who would like to create their own butterfly garden.

“If you want to start a garden or you have a garden and have questions about native plants, what to plant and what not to plant, you can always contact us through the city,” Bernardini said. “Jessica Fenton, the liaison from the city, would be the person to contact and she would get a hold of someone from the commission.”

Ocean City Environmental Commission Chairman Rick Bernardini shows preschoolers how to scoop out a hole for the butterfly plants at Bayside Center in 2022.