Fly by for butterflies
Clipper butterflies enjoy some food at the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit at the Chicago Botanic Garden August 17. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Butterflies and Blooms is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather permitting, at the Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake-Cook Road, Glencoe.
Updated: September 3, 2012 1:43PM
GLENCOE — There’s no good reason to stop wearing white after Labor Day, but the Chicago Botanic Garden has a very good reason to wear it before then.
Lots of butterflies like white, and the Glencoe attraction’s new Butterflies and Blooms butterfly garden — open seven days a week through Labor Day — is a place to find about 500 of them from four continents.
The white-loving butterflies will land on your blouse or hat or tennies. There are some butterflies that like yellow or orange, and Monarchs like purple because they like to feed on the nectar of purple asters, but only certain shades. You can’t go wrong with white.
Butterfly gardens present an unusual experience. Butterflies that would scram if you got within a block of them in the outdoors let you stick your face right up to them after they’ve been inside a big mesh tent for a while.
There are always a few exceptions, such as the blue morpho, which never seems to stop moving its big, iridescent wings — but maybe that’s a good thing.
When it does stop, it turns its dull, camo-colored side to the public, and it’s just not the same.
The 2,800 square-foot butterfly garden may have brought new visitors to the 385-acre Glencoe attraction. Botanic attendance is up 10 percent this year.
Then again, attendance at the big Cook County Forest Preserve District park has been up every year lately, from about 750,000 visits four years ago to about 954,000 last year, spokeswoman Gloria Ciaccio said. She said the staff is excited as the garden flirts with 2012 attendance of more than 1 million.
Also new and attractive this year is the Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden, a hands-on gardening experience for kids, parents and teachers. It’s free, while the butterflies cost $5 for adults and $3 for kids. Members get a buck off.
Maybe the surge has more to do with all the plants and water and wide open spaces in general.
“People live better and healthier lives when they’re involved with a garden,” Ciaccio said.
“People are under a lot of stress. Jobs are hard, if they’ve got one, foreclosures are up and they can find a place of respite, a place of peace, here.”
If you have a bike or strong legs, all that peace and respite is free. Parking is the only entrance fee to the Botanic Garden, at $20 a car.