July 03, 2009

News Release

For Immediate Release

Friends of the Garden hosts two July festivals in the park

Two summer festivals this July – each one celebrating ongoing development of the Close Gardens at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park – will focus attention on the wonders of nature in the Ozarks.

Both events are sponsored by Friends of the Garden Inc., a non-profit volunteer organization that has been raising funds toward the construction of the $4.3 million Botanical Center.

“In many ways, July is a great month for events that focus on the gardens,” says George Deatz, president of FOG. Details and information about FOG are available at www.friendsofthegarden.org.

Here are details of both events:

A close-up celebration of the marvels of butterflies

In science, butterflies and moths are lepidoptera. To children and poets, however, they are flying flowers, worthy of much chasing and observation. And that’s the reason Friends of the Garden is creating the Butterfly House to compliment the Close Gardens at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Parks.

“Along with butterflies – and a few moths – we hope to attract thousands of children to learn the science along with the thrill of observing the butterflies of Friends of the Garden, P.O. Box 8566, Springfield, Missouri 65801 Missouri,” says Dr. Bill Roston, who conceived of the festival idea after visiting butterfly houses elsewhere.

The metamorphosis of butterflies verges on the magical. Butterflies live several lives (including egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and finally, the adult winged migrating butterfly).

Perhaps the best known is the Monarch, which migrates thousands of miles across North and South America. But there are at least 50 species in Missouri, and more than 40 “host” plants that provide native habitat for butterflies.

At least three published lepidopterists from the Ozarks are helping develop educational programs and materials for guided seasonal tours.

A $1,000 donation has been made to purchase butterfly stock, and the removable butterfly house will provide a sanctuary for many varieties during their development cycles.

“Bluegrass and Blossoms” concert combines traditional, contemporary

Two different bluegrass bands, "Missouri Mountain Gang," with Larry Mayfield (traditional and contemporary bluegrass); and "Reel Greene" (traditional Irish and American music) will perform during the annual musical event.

“Bluegrass and Blossoms is a fantastic opportunity to hear great bluegrass and traditional music and explore the gardens," says Kenny Knauer, concert organizer and a member of Friends of the Garden.

"We want people to come out and see these beautiful gardens," says Susan Boswell, a master gardener and chair of Friends of the Garden development committee. "But we also want people to bring their families, view the construction site, and imagine the benefits of this wonderful new center."

When the 12,700-square-foot Botanical Center is completed in 2010, it will provide space for educational classes and gardening events as well as providing a home for Master Gardeners of Greene County. It will also include office space and public meeting rooms to be shared by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, University of Missouri Extension Service and Friends of the Garden.

"The Park Board is excited about the partnership with Friends of the Garden on this particular event. When it is completed, the botanical center will become a major regional destination for everyone, residents and visitors alike," says Jodie Adams, director of the Springfield-Greene County Parks Department.

Growing and growing and ever-expanding

The Botanical Center Master Plan envisions 41 separate gardens, 21 already in existence, including the Butterfly Garden. Already, there are 42 varieties of host plants that attract approximately 50 of the 160 varieties of butterflies that inhabit Missouri. Nationally, at least 20 varieties are endangered.

Volunteers with Friends of the Garden (FOG) are already constructing the Butterfly House in the Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, which will open May Friends of the Garden, P.O. Box 8566, Springfield, Missouri 65801 15, 2009, even as we hope construction will begin on the new Botanical Center this summer.

Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park already encompasses more than 100 acres of public demonstration gardens, several types of grass, herb, butterfly and vegetable gardens, some of which were created and maintained by Master Gardeners, and South Creek Greenway Trail.

About the Botanical Center

Tax deductible contributions to the Botanical Center can be made payable and sent to the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, 425 E. Trafficway, Springfield, MO 65806; with "Botanical Center Fund" noted on the memo line. For more information contact Susan Boswell at 882-7439.

Memberships to Friends of the Garden start at $25, made payable and sent to Friends of the Garden, P.O. Box 8566, Springfield, MO 65801.

For assistance, please call George Freeman, 417-838-8225 or george@thefreemangroup.org