Girl Scout Butterfly Air Garden

Town of Chapel Hill, NC


The Butterfly Air Garden was created as a service project of Girl Scout Troop 741 for the purpose of educating the public about biodiversity, native plants, and air quality and awareness.  Our garden helps preserve native ecosystems by supporting native pollinators and their predators. We also have an educational geocache near the garden, which is filled with air pollution facts and activities. Additionally, the plants in the garden improve air quality all the time through the process of photosynthesis!

The garden is also a beautiful and relaxing place to watch butterflies! Located at the Chapel Hill Community Center Learning Garden, it is convenient and accessible to all.

The Community Center Park is located at 120 South Estes Drive, across the street from University Mall. When you arrive at the park, walk past the playground toward the Rose Garden, and continue down the path. Our garden is located in front of the fence and arbor of the Learning Garden. While you are there, take time to visit the Learning Garden, whose raised beds are tended as part of the therapeutic gardening program, the Composting demonstration area, and the Community Rose Garden.

We hope that you stop by and enjoy our garden! When you visit, please respect our plants and insects. They are delicate and should not be stepped on or handled.

History of the Garden

Our garden began as an idea in January 2010, initially from a desire to create a project to raise awareness about air quality. Jessica Higgins, one of our adult leaders, is a doctoral candidate at UNC-Chapel Hill who is writing a dissertation about the effects of climate change on the behavior of various butterfly species, and she suggested that we do something to benefit the local butterflies and other pollinators. The idea was received with great enthusiasm, and planning began with a trip to the NC botanical garden and a great deal of research with books and on the web.

We met with officials from the Town of Chapel Hill on April 8 to find a site that was in a publically accessible site, since education was to be part of our project, and they suggested the site in the Community Center Garden, and they kindly removed the iris for us that was originally there. We did a weekend of training as “Green Teens” at Camp Pretty Pond, which qualified us to apply for funding from the Green Teen Grant through the Girl Scout Council of the Coastal Pines. We applied for a $100 grant and were elated when we received $700!

Armed with adequate funds, we proceeded with planting. Phase I was planted on April 24th. The plants did well despite the hot summer because they were watered three times a week until the weather cooled, and because the soil was well amended with compost and mulch. All the plants are native and will not need much supplemental watering next year when they are well established. Phase II was planted on Sept 18, along with a plant sale of the iris that had been removed and other items donated by the troop to raise additional funds for our garden to be completed. A phase 3 is under discussion, to eliminate the rest of the iris and tall reeds, to improve the aesthetics of the garden and decrease invasives in our garden.

Air Garden?

You may be wondering why we have called our garden a “Butterfly Air Garden”. As part of our Silver Award, our Girl Scout troop did a year long learning project  called “Breathe” where we learned about air, air pollution, and all of its effects on humans and their environment. The idea to plant a garden came out of this project, since plants help to improve air quality, and butterflies and other pollinators are creatures of the air.

Our garden is associated with a geocache that is full of fun facts and prizes regarding air awareness. If you are interested in finding this geocache, go to the geocaching website to learn more. The cache is GC2CBXT -Butterfly Air Garden, located at North 35 Degrees, 55.610, West 079 Degrees 02.008.


For driving directions, click the map image to go to Google Maps .Note: the parking lot entrance is closer to "150 S. Estes" than it is to the official address ("120")

Turn in at the Community Center sign and continue to the parking lot. (shown as "P" in the map on the left.)

From the parking lot, take the path toward the Rose Garden - the Butterfly Air Garden (shown as "G" on the map at left.) is to the left of the Rose Garden as you approach via the path.

If you're familiar with Chapel Hill, the garden is near University Mall, Pizza Hut, and Caribou Coffee - a perfect stop to relax during a shopping expedition.

We would like to thank: