I've written an article on "Butterfly Plants for School Gardens." I'd appreciate your comments and ideas.
Here is a link that might be useful: School Butterfly Plants Link
As a newbie myself, I liked it. I think you covered all the issues a school garden would face.
The lower the maintenance needed, the better chance the garden will still be there after five years.
I used to be a big supporter but have cooled on them since I've seen schools tear them out because no one is maintaining them. They are a waste of $ unless there is a teacher in place that is dedicated to keeping them going. Plus, in my area, the children rarely get to see any butterflies in the garden since they are on summer break when the garden is attracting butterflies.
In 2010, I got roped into putting together a grant proposal for a butterfly garden for my son's school. Fortunately, the grant did not come through. I say fortunately because the volunteers that currently maintain the current gardens at that school will soon disappear. The district is having $ troubles and will be discontinuing the program at that school that attracts involved parents. The PTA is totally gungho. Raises enough $ to pay for every school field trip. Last I saw, the PTA has $35k in the bank. But next school year, those parents will be spread throughout the district and that school may not even be open.
My daughter's school used to be surrounded by lilacs. I don't know whether the PTA, school district, or some grant paid them. Anyway, these bushes did attract butterflies in the spring when school was in session. In spring 2010, some teacher complained about the smell from the lilacs. So, that summer all the lilacs were ripped out and grass now surrounds the building. Another example of wasting $ on flowers for a school district.
This is a great article-very informative and well thought out. I hope you find the following comments helpful.
I would add
-Something specific about it being a great learning tool and can be built into lesson plans. Botany, soil science, life cycle of the butterfly, butterfly migration, etc., all tie into it.
-Be more specific about which plants are good for eating/nectar, and which are good for laying eggs. I was told recently that butterflies will only lay their eggs on milkweed plants. I don't know if this is true or not (and is part of why I am on this forum).
-Offer the possibility of having the kids do a winter sowing project to increase the number of plants. This way the kids stay tied to the garden even when it's cold and snowing, and it's easier on the school and/or PTA's budget. I've posted the link to the Winter Sowing forum below, in case you are not familiar with this process of seed planting/plant propagation. I would not put a lot into the article, just a a couple of sentences and links with more information if they cared to learn.
-Is there a certain size that is more apt to be maintained? Too big would be too daunting, too small not sufficient? And how many kids would be needed to maintain it during the school year?
And from the editor in me...
-I would consider moving the comment about native Missouri plants down into the section, "Consider all plants for the garden." In its current location, the second sentence detracts from the very positive tone of the the overall article.
-Under the section, "Where are you going to get your plants?" the first period should be a comma.
-The font you are using does not provide sufficient kerning space after the period. FWIW, to my eye it looks like the sentences are run-on. This is the first time I would ever suggest someone use two spaces after a period to improve reading, which is the easiest way to fix the issue. Of course, if it's not an issue to you, then please ignore that last one.
I have bookmarked your site, as I am trying myself to improve my garden's ability to attract butterflies, and appreciate your post very much!
Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Web Winter Sowing forum
Dill, parsley, rue, and fennel are all host plants for the black swallowtail.