Butterflies also find safe harbor at Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland

An unused courtyard filled with rocks, weeds and debris at Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland’s Broadway Club has been transformed into a garden designed to entice butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

The new pollinator garden will make the building more attractive and create a learning laboratory for the approximately 120 kids who attend the Club each day, according to Renata Fossen Brown, BGCC’s director of program operations and an experienced environmental educator.

“This beautiful new space gives us a great opportunity to show our kids the life cycles of both the plants and pollinators, and reinforce that bugs are good for the ecosystem,” Brown said. “It’s going to be really fun to watch the garden change through the seasons and see it fill out as everything grows. It is already getting lots of attention from the kids and staff, and we anticipate using it for many different learning activities.”

The project will be officially unveiled at an Oct. 28 reception.

The garden is the result of about a year’s worth of work by volunteers who planned the new space, removed rocks and soil, put in plants that attract pollinators and installed landscaping features. Bill Soeder Landscaping of Westlake was the single largest contributor to the project, donating design services, plants, trees, mulch and other materials as well as all labor and equipment.

Volunteers from City Year Cleveland and Baldwin Wallace University also helped prepare the site.

Plants in the new garden include: Joe-pye weed, late-season bloomer, perfect for Monarch butterflies to load up on nectar prior to their migration to Mexico; a paw paw tree, the sole source of food for the zebra swallowtail caterpillar; coneflowers, which attract hairstreaks, blues and skippers for nectar; and bee balm, a nectar plant for eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly.

BGCC has an entrepreneurial farm program in which members grow and sell vegetables. In addition, the organization is launching an aggressive Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics initiative.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland provides safe, fun places for kids ages 6-18 after school and on Saturdays. The organization, which has 15 locations in Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland and Garfield Heights, served about 8,600 youth last year.