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Skyland Trail Gardens Receive Recognition from North American Butterfly Association, National Wildlife Federation, and Monarch Watch

December 12, 2018

Skyland Trail Gardens Receive Recognition from North American Butterfly Association, National Wildlife Federation, and Monarch Watch

ATLANTA – The Metamorphosis Garden at Skyland Trail, an area where clients can experience the promise of positive outcomes through horticultural therapy by observing the transformation of caterpillars to butterflies, has received recognition from the North American Butterfly Association as a Certified Monarch Garden and Certified Butterfly Garden in addition to being certified as a Monarch Waystation by Monarch Watch. The woodland-inspired Garden of Grace on the Skyland Trail campus has also been designated as a Certified Wildlife Habitat from the National Wildlife Federation.

“Sadly, development in the United States is consuming habitats for monarchs and other wildlife at a rate of 6,000 acres per day,” said Libba Shortridge, HTR, MLA, horticulture therapist at Skyland Trail. “Certified Butterfly Gardens include predominantly native host and nectar plants, which nurture butterfly larvae and adults respectively. These gardens encourage habitat restoration to support numerous species of butterflies.”

Monarch Waystations are areas that provide necessary resources such as milkweeds for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. Without nectar from milkweed flowers in late summer, migratory monarch butterflies would be unable to make their long, five-generational journey to overwintering grounds in Mexico. The new Waystation on Skyland Trail supports three varieties of milkweed to aid monarchs along their route.

The creation of a certifiable butterfly and wildlife habitat began over a decade ago with a vision from volunteer Carole Weil. Thanks to generous donations from Edna and Mike Wellons in honor of their late daughter Katherine as well as the Cherokee, Druid Hills, and Ivy Garden Clubs, that vision has become a reality. In the Metamorphosis Garden, Skyland Trail clients in horticultural groups outlined the Butterfly Boardwalk and designed the trapezoid-shaped butterfly raised beds. Within the Garden of Grace, paths were laid out and constructed by Skyland Trail clients and student volunteers from Pace Academy and The Galloway School.

“We could not have achieved these impressive certifications without the generosity of our donors, volunteers, and staff,” said Shortridge.

Horticultural therapy groups help clients in the Skyland Trail psychiatric residential and day treatment programs discover opportunities to use nature as a tool for recovery and sustaining mental health. The program is led by Libba Shortridge, a registered horticultural therapist, and includes hands-on activities involving plant cultivation, outdoor experiences, and constructing art from natural materials. Horticultural therapy is part of the adjunctive therapies department which also includes music therapy, product art therapy, process art therapy, and recreational therapy.