With all of its plant life, the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield is a natural attraction for butterflies, but the facility is taking it one step further this summer.
A new butterfly pavilion is now open at the gardens and will house 100-150 butterflies at a time. All butterflies will be native to Colorado as will plant life.
“Colorado is a hotspot for diversity of butterflies because of different habitats from the plains to the foothills to the mountains. It’s a great addition to all our other offerings here,” Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield director Larry Vickerman said.
The Botanic Gardens partnered with the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster to make this new locale happen. It’s the Butterfly Pavilion’s first-ever venture outside of Westminster.
The strictly native focus of the Chatfield location is also a first.
“We wanted to create something new and something different for the metro area,” Butterfly Pavilion vice president of science and conservation Mary Ann Hamilton said. “We’ve been in Westminster for 19 years and we’ve never had a native house in the metro area or the state.”
The pavilion is right next to the main parking lot for the gardens. Depending on weather, it will be open throughout the summer and into the early fall. Hamilton said organizers hope to have it open until early October. Since the pavilion will not be temperature controlled, it will have to close when the plants freeze and the butterflies have nothing left to eat.
The 1,600-square-foot structure was built by the Butterfly Pavilion while Denver Botanic Gardens planted the garden with about 50 different species of plants. Hamilton said Chatfield was an ideal location.
“Chatfield has a tremendous amount of space and farther reach south than we’ve had,” she said.
Butterfly Pavilion will keep the site stocked with different species of butterflies in all phases of development. In the spring, patrons can expect to see the monarchs and painted ladies. As the summer progresses, the pavilion will add two-tailed swallowtail, southern dogface, silver spotted, mourning cloak, red admiral, variegated fritillary, common sulfur and cabbage white butterflies.
“It’s going to bring a really nice day-to-day attraction to Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield,” Vickerman said.
The pavilion will be staffed by workers from both Denver Botanic Gardens and Butterfly Pavilion, with some volunteers helping out. Vickerman said the pavilion will also add a nice educational aspect for young people.
“We’re known for butterflies out in our garden,” he said. “It will be nice when people see them in the garden and then come in here and identify them.”
Joe Vaccarelli, Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post
Location: Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, 8500 W. Deer Creek Canyon Road
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, last entry at 4 p.m.
Cost: $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $4 for children age 3-12