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Visit a Butterfly Paradise Within Franklin Park Conservatory

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Ilona has gardened actively for most of her life and has been a writer and webmaster online since 1998. Homeschooled all 10 of her children.

Experience Live Butterflies Up Close

Painted Lady butterfly on Butterfly bush bloom (Buddleia). Bring Lepidoptera into your garden

Painted Lady butterfly on Butterfly bush bloom (Buddleia). Bring Lepidoptera into your garden

Dreamworld of Exotic Butterflies

In a Pacific Rainforest

Entering a lush tropical rain forest, the air heavy with mist, the stream sparkles before me. It runs in a rivulet before becoming lost in the tangle of orchids, glossy green leaves, and the towering overhang of Pacific rainforest trees.

Directly ahead, a stairway leads into the path that curves away from view, so that I notice the richly colored blooms that screen it and stop to gaze at their perfect forms.

Following the turn, a fantastical sight of twisting turrets in yellow, streaked with red, burst upon my eye. A sculpture, made entirely of glass by the most alive imagination, is fully discovered before me. All of a sudden, a cloud of butterflies, all colors, of different sizes, in the most jewel-like shimmering hues, fly around me; and one, most delicate, alights upon my startled hand to bid me welcome.

Have I happened into Paradise?

No, but I am visiting one of the most enchanting exhibits of live butterflies and tropical plantings of the Pacific Island Water Garden inside the Franklin Park Conservatory.

Where am I?

In the middle of the most wonderful experiences for both adults and children, the Conservatory's annual "Blooms and Butterflies" event which lasts from March 10 - September 3, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio.

Who can resist this treat of living artwork flying among the equally entrancing art of Chihuly showcased among the exotic foliage and blooms of the Pacific rain forests? Let's explore this dreamworld butterfly exhibit at the Franklin Park Conservatory with art and real, live butterflies, among the exotic flowers and plants.

Blooms and Butterflies Captured

About the Exhibit

To enjoy more of these delicate creatures ...find out about them

Newly emerged butterflies are released into the Pacific Island Water Garden at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. and Conservatory staff member will provide a short talk; this is a great opportunity to find out more facts than you might otherwise pick up from the exhibit itself.

Many species are tropical butterflies,from South America, Africa and the Caribbean, that most of us would not get a chance to see flying through the air. Some I remember seeing are the Paperkite, the Morpho, Orange Julia, and Glasswings. With 100 species represented, it is a field day for butterflies.

100 butterfly species

During the summer months, starting in June, emerging monarchs are released daily at 3 p.m. into the outside pollinators garden area.

Available inside the gift shop and greenhouse are Ohio native Painted Lady caterpillars to take home and observe the metamorphosis first hand. A wonderful way to extend the experience of the world of butterflies.

The Pacific Garden

Within the Conservatory are many climate zones, after seeing the butterflies in the Pacific garden, visit the rest.

Within the Conservatory are many climate zones, after seeing the butterflies in the Pacific garden, visit the rest.

Butterfly Trivia

Facts like this...

Lifecycle of the Lepidoptera has four parts:

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  1. egg
  2. larva (caterpillars)
  3. pupa (chrysalis)
  4. adult

Butterfly taste receptors are on their feet.

There are between 15,000 and 20,000 different species of butterfly.

Butterflies are insects with four wings.

They range in size from the very small 1/8 inch to almost 12 inches.

Butterflies see red, green, and yellow.

Top butterfly flight speed? 12 miles per hour.

If you would like to know more about butterflies through observing them, buy live caterpillars and follow directions helping them to cycle through their stages. Release the butterflies into your yard.

From The Common To The Exotic

Alighting on Lantana blooms

Alighting on Lantana blooms

Indoor Rainforest and Glass Sculptures

Chihuly glass sculptures made the perfect counterpoint to the bright movement of the butterflies

Chihuly glass sculptures made the perfect counterpoint to the bright movement of the butterflies

Pacific Island Water Garden

Where the butterfly exhibition takes place each year

As one of the largest exhibits in the Franklin Park Conservatory, located in Columbus Ohio, the Pacific Island Water Garden is packed with tropical plants.

Franklin Park Conservatory opened Blooms & Butterflies in 1994; it was the first conservatory in the nation to showcase a seasonal butterfly exhibition.

Described as follows,"the Pacific Island biome represents the diverse landscapes found on a volcanically formed island, dotted with tall, canopy covering trees, and flowering plants", this part of the Conservatory is like a forest with all your favorite houseplants in giant size with many water features to enjoy.

This is the perfect place to discover the butterflies of the tropics- full of green foliage, flowers that rival the colorful butterflies and water features that create a little part of a paradise to explore. The art of Chihuly just adds the finishing flourish to a perfectly beautiful garden.

Features In Franklin Park Conservatory

While the Butterfly exhibit is situated within the Pacific Tropical garden, there are other climate zone gardens in the conservatory building as well as a park outside.

A fun giftshop and cafe are also a part of the many parts of this botanical garden.

It is a beautiful venue for weddings, as my daughter's wedding proved. We have pictures of what I felt was the most perfect marriage ceremony I've attended.

My daughter's perfect indoor garden wedding.

Emerging Metamorphosis

One of the fascinating events in the Butterfly exhibition is watching the full grown butterflies emerging from their chrysalis cocoons. Every day they emerge, dry their wings, and become ready to fly within the enclosure of the biodome of the cloud forest.

Flitting and Fluttering

Art At The Conservatory

A little about the artist:

Dale Chihuly was introduced to glass while studying interior design at the University of Washington. He went to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice, later in his career he was honored with a solo exhibition, 'Dale Chihuly objets de verre', at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Palais du Louvre, in Paris. Besides his magnificent contribution to the world of art glass, he has worked as a teacher and mentor to many students of the art. He has also worked as a performance artist.

The Chihuly Resource Center in Franklin Park Conservatory is open during the following hours and by appointment: Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

An Artful Rain Forest

A pathway through the Pacific Rain Forest environment.

A pathway through the Pacific Rain Forest environment.

Chihuly Sculptures - Franklin Park Conservatory makes the perfect frame

Chihuly sculptures

Chihuly sculptures

More To See At Franklin Park

There are permanent installations of Dale Chihuly's glass art, but in 2010 there was a festival of colorful additions. The creative force of the staff at the Conservatory are always bringing something new and fresh for visitors.

There are live glassblowing demonstrations at the Hot Shop.


Although the Live Butterfly Exhibit,Blooms & Butterflies, lasts for only the months March through September, the Chihuly sculpture collection is worth seeing at all seasons.

The Franklin Park Conservatory art glass exhibition is the largest collection of Chihuly glass owned by any conservatory or botanical garden

Visiting Columbus? Flights Further Afield

  • Fun Day Trips Around Columbus Ohio
    Do you want something fun to do in the Central Ohio area? Are you looking for family fun while in the Columbus area? Here are my top favorite places to visit.
  • Gardens of Ohio: Park of Roses
    A perfect place for a summer evening stroll, a free concert, or a wedding. The Rose Garden at Whetstone Park is a lovely way to spend time during any season, but especially at the height of the rose bloom in June. This is a park that I have visited o

Come alight and leave your butterfly kisses here - Do you love butterflies?

Beverly Rodriguez from Albany New York on March 14, 2012:

Very enjoyable lens. I recently visited a butterfly indoor garden, and it was enchanting.

huvalbd on March 14, 2012:

Beautifully written, especially the intro--it really pulled me in.

Anthony Altorenna from Connecticut on February 02, 2012:

Beautiful.... Living in the Northeast, I haven't seen a butterfly in months. I can't wait to see the first butterflies of spring!

Mary Beth Granger from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA on June 19, 2011:

Beautiful...sounds a lot like the butterfly house where I volunteer in the St. Louis area. blessed

Ilona E (author) from Ohio on June 03, 2011:

Thanks for your kind comments :) Anyone living near a butterfly exhibit should really go an experience it firsthand- so much fun!

anonymous on May 11, 2011:

Nice lens, we have Butterfly World here in South Florida.

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