Just Opened: The Dorcas E. Utter Memorial Butterfly Pavilion


Weekends were made for fun… and gardening, but if dragging the kids to a nursery isn’t exactly your cup of tea, or their cup of organic milk, go see The Water Conservation Garden’s newest exhibit: The Dorcas E. Utter Memorial Butterfly Pavilion. Interact with San Diego native and endemic butterfly species, and afterward, stroll through the other garden exhibits for landscape inspiration with a final stop at the garden shop for some drought-tolerant plants.

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The Background
What started out as a tiny seed of an idea from one of The Garden’s biggest supporters, recently became reality due in part to a generous donation from the Dorcas E. Utter estate. Some fifteen years in the making, the new butterfly exhibit is sure to get the kids excited about gardening when they discover how to support butterfly life cycles and the environment by creating a low-water-use butterfly garden at home.

The Details
Marvel the gorgeous glass artwork by Cherrie La Porte that adorns the entrance, sure to make everyone in the family ooh and aah. Then, explore the 18-ft. tall vivarium with butterfly-loving nectar plants and hundreds of butterflies. For a small admission fee ($5 for General Public, $3 for ages 5-12), the Butterfly Pavilion is open for tours every day from 9:30am-3:30pm during butterfly season (April through October), but you may want to consider garden membership to gain free access to the enclosure.


photo courtesy of The Garden

The Garden
Demonstrations throughout The Water Conservation Garden give moms and dads ideas for everything from retaining walls to turf alternatives to composting. For the tots, adventures in a dinosaur-themed discovery area (with a small wooden “potting shed” and sandbox) followed by a stop at shaded picnic tables for a sack lunch make an awesome outing before naptime. The Garden is open daily from 9a.m.-4p.m. with donation-based admission and ample free parking. On Saturdays, after shopping the farmers’ market on the Cuyamaca College campus, pop on over to The Garden to escape the heat. Relax in the gazebo or lounge under a pergola, rounding out a perfect spring or summer day.


The Festival
Celebrate the grand opening of the new Butterfly Pavilion by attending The Garden’s first annual Butterfly Festival on April 5, 2014, from 9a.m.-3p.m. Enjoy a day of family-friendly activities, including tours of the new enclosure, a Butterfly Discovery Lab (in partnership with the San Diego Natural History Museum), a Pollinator Parade (starring your little ones dressed up as their favorite pollinators: bees, bats, birds, butterflies, and beetles), food, crafts, story time, and more. Entrance fees: $5 for ages 18 and up or $1 for ages 3-17.


12122 Cuyamaca College Drive West
El Cajon,  Ca
619-660-0614, ext. 10
Online: thegarden.org

Do you and your family garden? What’s your go-to resource for gardening in San Diego?

— Amanda Freerksen (all photos my Amanda unless otherwise indicated)


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