Last year, a new dog park opened near the Adel Aquatic Center as a part of a Girl Scout project. Last Saturday, another Girl Scout project yielded a butterfly garden, right next to the dog park in Adel.

Girl Scout supporters and Adel residents celebrated the opening of the new garden on Saturday, June 10 with a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m.

Ashley Downing, a Girl Scout in Adel, put the butterfly garden together as a part of her junior bronze project. The garden will bring other pollinators as well, such as bees.

“This started out a butterfly garden, but now it’s kind of a pollinator garden,” said Ashley’s mother, Liz Downing.

The garden will not only attract butterflies and bees, but also creatures that take to the sky.

“We’re going to have plants in here that attract hummingbirds, because hummingbirds are also pollinators,” Liz said.

Speaking at the ribbon cutting ceremony on June 10, Adel Mayor Jim Peters commended Ashley and the Girl Scouts for their work on the project and for helping to attract more pollinators to the area.

“I remember growing up, you could see a lot of butterflies, and then the habitat has changed over the years,” Peters said.

Ashley said that when looking for a project to take on for her bronze project, she wanted to do something that would help the environment.

“As we all know, butterflies are beautiful, and they are also becoming extinct,” Ashley said. “They are important pollinators, along with things like bees that are also becoming extinct.”

To make this happen, Ashley had to go around the community and get donations for the project and ended up raising more than $5,000. She took part in events, wrote more than 300 letters to businesses and even sold baked goods to come up with the money for the garden.

Before deciding to take on the project, Ashley read an article that was given to her by Girl Scout leader Jackie Giles about the danger of pollinators becoming endangered and eventually extinct. A lot of research was done to decide what they would put in the garden.

“You have to have host plants and nectar plants for butterflies, one they lay their larvae on and the other one they eat when they are hatched,” Liz said.

Harvey’s Greenhouse in Adel helped with project, giving them guidance on what plants they should put in the garden. They even donated the flowers to the garden.

They also received donations from the Adel Lions Club, the Adel Rotary Club, the Aveda Institute, Adel Kiwanis, the American Legion and more.

The flowers and plants that are in the garden are in recycled pallets that were going to be taken to the dump, and the benches are made of recycled and refurbished materials and purchased wood.

They will now hand maintenance over to the City of Adel, although Liz says she anticipates they will still be out there helping in the meantime to make sure all the plants are watered as much as they need to be.

“We’ve been doing that every night,” said Ashley’s father Mark Downing. “We’ve been bringing out gallon jugs and watering the whole thing.”

The park is registered with Plant, Grow, Fly, a program with Blank Park Zoo. They will not be able to use pesticides in the garden, because they are harmful to butterflies and bees.