Fenway Victory Gardens Get Funding to Build a New Butterfly Garden

More butterflies will soon be fluttering throughout the Fenway Victory Gardens after a new butterfly garden is installed later this year.

Elizabeth Bertolozzi, president of the Fenway Garden Society has been scavenging and raising caterpillars within her own garden for years while providing educational sessions both in the Fenway Victory Gardens and throughout the city.

In the last few years, she has mentored other caterpillar parents on how to raise them, what to do when they cocoon and where to release them back into the gardens.

Now, she has the chance to bring her ideas to a much bigger scale with the new butterfly garden.

The Fenway Garden Society received $25,712 in funding to proceed with their plans to build a butterfly garden within a community plot inside the Fenway Victory Gardens.

The investment was made possible through the Fenway Park Demonstration Project Community Benefits fund maintained by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) from contributions made by the Boston Red Sox.

Back in 2013, the BPDA approved the Fenway Park Demonstration Project after they granted easement rights to then Yawkey Way (now Jersey Street), to the Boston Red Sox for game days, as well as air-rights over Lansdowne Street to accommodate the Green Monster seats.

As part of the project, the Red Sox contribute $100,000 a year, for 10 years, to the BPDA for beautification efforts in the Fenway neighborhood.

The butterfly garden will placed in the center of the handicapped accessible garden. The raised vegetable garden beds that are currently in rows will be placed to the side of the rectangle plot to allow easy access to the future butterfly garden that will be in the center.

It will feature special plants that butterflies can lay their eggs on and that caterpillars can eat. Those will go alongside milkweed and nectar plants such as cosmos, sunflowers and zinnias for when the caterpillars turn into butterflies.

“We still need to get feedback on what the group of gardeners want to do here,” said Bertolozzi. “The butterfly garden is for the community and will be put together by the community, and we want to invite the public for input.”

Once they finalize plans, Bertolozzi hopes to install the new butterfly garden this season.

More exciting things are in the works for improvements as well.

There are plans to update and renovate the front entranceway along Park Drive into the community gardens.

Last year, the Garden Society received a grant to work with COGdesign, the Community Outreach Group for Landscape Design, that provides pro-bono landscape design services along with Perennial Gardens, a horticulture and irrigation company to start brainstorming ideas on redoing the entrance garden.

The garden is maintained by two trusted volunteers, but since it is front and center, it presents unique challenges not seen elsewhere in the gardens.

Bertolozzi said it is a historic area and needs to follow rules on what can be planted or permitted to go there.

Right now, Bertolozzi says she plans on working with community members and the Parks Department to figure out what will be best to go there but, the biggest challenge would be funding. If they don’t receive it for this year, the goal is to do something by next.

“We are just in the informal stages now,” said Bertolozzi. “We need a little more time.”

This year, Bertolozzi said they have had more volunteer groups than ever.

By early May, she said the garden has already had six volunteered groups and a record amount of people show up to the first garden clean-up of the season.

“Every single group is so much fun!” said Bertolozzi. “They have great questions and everyone always wants to come back.”

To enjoy the clean park made possible by the volunteers, there are many events coming down the pipeline.

To correspond with Fenway Porchfest on June 16, the Fenway Garden Society will be hosting Open Gardens. The event will feature artist demonstrations, flower arranging courses, food, and a great time in the gardens as it is surrounded by music.

The Mayor’s Coffee Hour will take place June 12 at 9:30 a.m., where members of the community can come ask Mayor Martin Walsh and other city agencies questions.

For the first time, the Fenway Garden Society will be hosting a group trip to Georges Island on June 29. Bertolozzi said she thought this event would be a great way to get older members to take part in a fun activity and interact with other members of the Garden Society.

As always, Fensfest will take place the Saturday after Labor Day, which will feature food, fun activities and more. For members, grilling will take place on the Fourth of July and Memorial Day as well.

“A lot of our members forget how unique this space is. It’s the oldest operating Victory Gardens in the U.S.,” said Bertolozzi. “We want to bring more people into the gardens.”

If you have any questions on the upcoming events or want to get more involved e-mail [email protected].

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