Book Fair Epiphany

This past weekend I had the honor of being invited to participate in the 28th annual Buckeye Book Fair.  This book fair takes place in Wooster, Ohio every year and 100 Ohio authors are invited to attend to sell their books and visit with book enthusiasts.  I was blessed to be counted among those 100 authors.

I shared my table with Mary Gardiner of Ohio State and her book about beneficial bugs in the garden.  Of course, I was there plugging my Butterfly Gardening book, the profits from which go directly to the Butterfly Ridge project.  The OSU folks had been kind enough to bring the Bug Zoo and several cases of prepared butterfly specimens, making Mary and I's table one of the more popular among fair goers.  I also gave away about 150 packets of wildflower seed, a total of about 7000 seeds.

As I chatted with people I found that some people were very interested in butterfly gardening and had already take steps to start a garden to attract butterflies.  These folks were excited to take some seed packets and start some new butterfly friendly plant species in their home landscapes.  

I also noticed that some people swung by the table just because they thought the butterflies on display were pretty.  These folks had no interest in gardening for a variety of reasons; it is too much work, I am too old, I don't have time, etc.  This of course got me thinking.

How do we spread the gospel of butterfly gardening to this latter group of people?  The former group has already received the gospel and are in fact starting their own ministries, their own gardens.  But how do you get through to the person who is already feeling overwhelmed, old and tired, or just lazy?  These are the folks who will just accept whatever the new home construction landscaping package includes, or whatever happens to be sitting in front of Giant Eagle on a seasonal basis.

I think to truly be the greatest benefit to butterflies, we need to preach our gospel to the new home construction landscapers, the ones who plant boxwood hedges and japanese maples and nothing else.  Planting butterfly friendly plants does not require any additional work.  Planting a dogwood hedge is no more time consuming than planting a boxwood hedge, and actually in the long run is less time consuming as the dogwoods will not need trimmed every year.

I have heard landscapers say the reason why they plant boxwood and japanese maple is because that is what their customers want.  Unfortunately their customers typically are not given many choices.  Do I pick the boxwood hedge or the yew hedge?!

One of the goals of Butterfly Ridge Butterfly Conservation Center will be to encourage landscapers to offer landscapes with a purpose; landscapes that are designed to attract butterflies, bees, birds, and other forms of wildlife.  It requires no more work in the short-term but has long-lasting impact.