Castle Country Assisted Living, along with help from the Butterfly Pavilion, is using the beauty and awe of butterflies to get its residents outside.

The Butterfly Pavilion, a non-profit invertebrate zoo located in Westminster, Colo., sponsors an annual Senior Habitat Gardening Program. Every year since 2002, the pavilion has selected several senior living communities in the state to participate and Castle Country Assisted Living was one of the communities chosen this year. As part of the program, volunteers from the Pavilion helped CCAL residents plant a butterfly garden at their community.

The advantages of this program are endless. Not only does gardening provide physical benefits for seniors like improved strength and flexibility, the community aspect of the garden helps seniors get social. Starting, maintaining and enjoying the garden is a group effort, and CCAL expects to see its residents frequently congregated in the garden—especially once the anticipated butterflies arrive. Many residents are learning new skills through the program: how to garden, which plants work best in Colorado’s climate, the benefits of butterflies and more! Moreover, studies have shown that being outdoors and connecting with nature sparks creativity. Lifelong learning and engagement have also been shown to reduce cognitive decline in seniors.

CCAL’s residents aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the garden. As the population increases in the Denver-metro area, more and more natural spaces are being replaced with housing and commercial businesses. Through this program, habitats for butterflies—as well as other beneficial insects like bees—are restored, allowing Colorado residents to continue enjoying a thriving food supply with the support of nature’s pollinators.

On June 1, CCAL residents planted their garden. Now, they’re eagerly awaiting colorful blooms and visits from their winged friends.

The Butterfly Pavilion will continue to partner with CCAL residents as the garden’s growth continues. At the year’s end, volunteers will conduct a survey to evaluate the program’s success and its benefits to the residents. Horticulturists will be available for consultations should the newbie gardeners have questions or concerns. And the gardeners will also have a care packet with helpful tips they can refer to at any time.

Next time you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by and take a walk through our new garden. You’re likely to meet some of our residents if you do, and, if you’re lucky, a winged invertebrate or two.

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