Peaceful, Easy Feeling

Hi Friends!

As our busy Summer slips away, it feels like the perfect time to share one of our very favorite Summer days. Visiting the Chicago Botanic Garden is always a treat for all of the senses! On this delightful, late August day, the gardens welcomed us… as my heart overflowed with a sweet song of Summer.

Strolling together along quiet lakes with my husband has always been a beautiful part of “our story.” In fact, we will always cherish one of our very early dates here, at the Chicago Botanic Garden,  as we walked hand-in-hand while getting to know one another! ♥♥

The early morning stillness felt like a walking meditation. The pollinators were already busy at work while we had the garden paths to ourselves.

I always find so much inspiration here that it quickly turns into an Artist’s Date! I’m drawn to nature’s color combinations that would be so lovely in my cottage perennial gardens and the delicate petal forms that I long to capture with watercolors in my new sketchbook. My camera roll quickly fills with all of the beauty… along with a ‘wish list’ of perennials that would feel right at home in my garden!


This has been my Summer to learn more about Mason bees because we were gifted with a beautiful Mason bee house for our garden. Each morning, I check on their progress as these hardworking pollinators fill the tiny, hollow tubes with eggs. Little-by-little, they seal each full tube with wet, clay soil.

In nature, Mason bees often lay their eggs in tiny cracks, in pine cones, in bundles of sticks, and other protected spaces, then seal the opening with wet soil. We really enjoyed this large display about Mason bees.

Isn’t this a truly charming Mason bee house? Nestled in among the Hydrangea blossoms, the house rests on a tree trunk. Bee-still my heart… even more inspiration! 🙂

My heart was all a-flutter as I glanced at my watch.

It was time!

The main reason for today’s visit was to enjoy the Butterflies & Blooms exhibition at the Chicago Botanic Garden. From late May through early September, visitors have a rare opportunity to spend time with live butterflies native to South America, North America, Asia, Africa, and some Illinois natives, as well. Just six people at a time entered the vestibule for our introduction and instructions. We were reminded to look down at the ground often, especially after standing in one place to observe or photograph. Butterflies often rest on the ground and care must be taken to preserve their safety.

As we carefully stepped inside,

such a peaceful, easy feeling washed over me…

A beautiful garden of host plants in full bloom welcomed us inside the large screened-in exhibition space. Hundreds of butterflies fluttered about landing on the colorful blooms. (To learn the name and country of origin of each butterfly, just click here.)

I enjoyed seeing so many of the same flowers that grow in my perennial garden beds. 🙂 (To learn about the flowers from the exhibition, just click here.) It was so interesting to observe the how blossom colors and forms attracted the butterflies.

We headed toward the Pupa Room to peek through the window into the Emergence Chamber. Every Friday throughout the exhibition, 300 to 500 new chrysalises arrive here. All of them are raised on butterfly farms for  educational purposes. The butterflies and moths for this exhibition are never caught in the wild.

The chrysalises hang inside the hot, humid Emergence Chamber (80 degrees F, 80% humidity) until they are ready to hatch. Butterflies usually emerge in the morning as the sun shines down on the Emergence Chamber. It only takes a few seconds to emerge! The new butterfly hangs onto the chrysalis until it is ready to unfurl its wings. As soon as its wings are dry, it begins to fly around. Then it is carefully lifted out for release. What an amazing Morning Science lesson!

We were delighted to observe several brand new butterflies being released into the exhibition. I just love new beginnings! 🙂 The new butterflies immediately flew over to a nearby feeding dish.

Four feeding dishes are scattered throughout the exhibition space. The dishes are filled with rotting fruit and a sponge filled with blue Gatorade. Butterflies like to eat bananas, watermelon, mangoes and pineapple (the more rotten the better). They sip sugar water from the sponge and flower nectar through their proboscis, a straw-like structure. Butterflies do not have chewing mouth parts.

Enjoy the delicate beauty of a few of these “flying flowers”…

We also had a fascinating opportunity to view a large atlas moth (native to Southeast Asia) up close. It is one of the largest insects on the planet. The atlas moth does not feed after emerging from its cocoon. During the day, it doesn’t move from its resting place. It uses all of its energy while looking for a mate at night. This beautiful moth only lives for one or two weeks.

This close up shows the intricate, detailed wing of the atlas moth.

Awe inspiring!


When a butterfly landed on my wrist, it was a perfect time for an impromptu Science lesson with some young visitors. (Once a teacher, always a teacher!) 🙂 Another visitor walked by wearing a straw hat adorned with visiting butterflies.

  A short Butterflies & Blooms video (courtesy of The Chicago Botanic Garden)

As visitors came and left, we lingered in this peaceful oasis for 1.5 hours. There was so much beauty to savor and enjoy! My sweet husband has been a Lepidoptera enthusiast since childhood. So, he was truly in seventh heaven! Spending time among hundreds of colorful butterflies gave me the most wonderful, peaceful, easy feeling!

As we left the Butterflies & Blooms exhibition, special Butterfly TSA volunteers carefully checked us for any butterfly ‘hitchhikers’ that might ride out with us. In the outer vestibule, each visitor spun around at a mirror to check for possible butterfly escapees. We must be very careful to avoid introducing non-native species to our environment.

We had such a lovely morning! It was simply delightful to watch the young children interacting with the butterflies. Photographers focused their long lenses as butterflies sipped nectar from blossoms. Gardeners dreamed of new perennials to attract butterflies to their gardens. My heart was overflowing with gratitude for this peaceful, enchanting experience!

Heartfelt thanks, dear blog friends, for continuing to visit

over the past several weeks.

I am truly grateful for your friendship! ♥♥

Special family time is keeping me extra busy.

I still have SO many stories to share…


Sending crisp, cozy Autumn blessings,

from my heart to yours!


With gratitude,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  When did you experience a peaceful, easy feeling this Summer?  Hope you will share with us!






22 thoughts on “Peaceful, Easy Feeling

  1. Dawn,
    What a beautiful garden to visit. I am especially interested in the Mason bees and will read more about them. The butterflies are beyond lovely. Some that you shared, I’ve never seen. I love the butterfly with blue on his wings. How wonderful.
    I’m now retired so I believe that has brought me several days of peaceful, easy feelings.

    • It’s always a very special treat to spend time at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Karen! (Over the years, I often took my young students there on field trips to study plants.) I’m really enjoying learning about Mason bees. I just fell in love with that charming Mason bee house! It reminded me of both a dollhouse and a Little Free Library!😊
      Huge congratulations on your retirement, Karen! What a wonderful, peaceful, easy feeling that brings! Your new garden designs are so lovely, Karen. Wish California wasn’t so far away! Happy Autumn days, sweet friend!💗

  2. I love mason bee houses and really would like to put up several. I have a bat living in my porch eaves. But butterflies are my all-time favorite. I was able to visit the butterfly garden In Victoria, BC twice. It is so much fun. You have excellent photos and I really love the video. I know you have been busy with family and I’ve been away for a couple of months too. Catching up soon. Thank you for sharing this and making my day.

    • We share a great fondness for butterflies and Mason bees, Marlene! Such busy creatures who make our gardens blossom with abundance! Is the butterfly garden in Victoria, BC part of the Butchart Botanical Garden? I visited this beautiful garden so long ago, before I ever became a gardener. I still remember its beauty and charm! What fun it would be to visit again!
      Thank you for your very kind words. With hundreds of butterflies fluttering about, it was so easy to take close up photos. The butterflies were landing only inches away! It was pure magic… and definitely the most peaceful, easy feeling of the Summer for me.
      Thanks so much for stopping to visit today, Marlene!
      Wishing you cozy Autumn days in Oregon! 💗

      • The Butterfly Garden is just down the road from Butchart Garden but not actually part of it. It’s small enough from the vastness of Butchart Gardens that most completely miss it. I loved every minute of being there. Had a parrot in there sit with me for a while as we conversed. Such a memory. We are having perfect Autumn weather here. Wishing you the same. Hugs.

      • Oh Marlene, the Butterfly Garden in Victoria sounds like a lovely hidden treasure! Thank you for sharing it with all of us. Hope to visit beautiful Victoria again one day and I will definitely look forward to the Butterfly Garden.
        We are having a nice start to Autumn here, cool evenings but warm afternoons. I enjoyed a peaceful day in the garden yesterday. Sending warmest hugs to Oregon! 💗

  3. Ohhh Dawn, thank you for taking us on your butterfly adventure. It was truly like being there. They are so beautiful. That Atlas moth – I’ve never seen one before. Isn’t nature miraculous? I too have visited the Butterfly garden in Victoria BC – I don’t think it’s part of Butchard Gardens – not that I remember anyway. I loved being in there with so many beautiful butterflies. I too love new beginnings and butterflies remind me of life – that messy stage when we struggle to emerge from our cocoon into our beautiful next phase of our journey. I’ve just a couple of days ago planted some swan plants for the monarchs. I think I need to plant a lot more. Last year the caterpillars chomped through all the leaves on my swan plant and I needed to send out for someone to rescue them and transport them to a bigger plant. This was quite a thing in New Zealand last year – with social media groups matching people all over the country – those with lots of caterpillars, and those with swan plants that could take them. Butterflies are one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and your photos are beautiful. I’m also fascinated by Mason bees now too – I don’t know anything about them. I love that mason bee house in your photo. Looks like it would be right at home with the fairies in our gardens. I’m so looking forward to summer. Our clocks change this coming weekend so our days will feel so much longer then. Go well my friend. So happy you got out with your hubby for that special time in the gardens xox

    • Good morning, Vicky! Happy first day of SPRING! 🔆 The Butterfly garden in Victoria sounds just lovely. I’m so happy that you (and your camera) had a chance to experience it! I have a few more photos of the atlas moth to send you. It was fascinating to see the delicate scales that create the patterns on its intricate wings. Up close, it reminded me of Pointillism painting!
      It was so interesting to read about the Swan plants in New Zealand, Vicky! I love that you found someone to come rescue and transport your Monarch caterpillars. Here the Monarchs lay their eggs on the leaves of the Milkweed plant. When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars will have immediate access to their food source. When the Monarchs began to disappear, caring gardeners began to plant more Milkweed and created Monarch Way Stations. Fortunately, these plantings have become a ‘Milkweed highway’ that the Monarchs can follow in their migration. During the past two weeks, I have noticed several beautiful Monarchs in our garden! Each one made my heart smile.
      I’m learning about Mason bees this year, too. These non-stinging pollinators are most welcome in our gardens. I’m trying to make them feel right ‘at home’ here!
      It’s already feeling a bit like Autumn here. Our days are getting shorter and the temperatures are cooler now. I’ll be wearing a sweatshirt in the garden today. So happy for your longer Springtime days. Springtime is my favorite season. It’s such a celebration of new beginnings!
      Sending warm hugs across the seas!💗

      • Oh, thank you, Vicky! I read about how quickly the Swan plants grow. Hope yours will do well and bring many butterflies to your amazing garden in the coming months!
        Sending Autumn hugs on a rainy day! 💗

  4. Darling, darling Dawn, HELLO! Thank you for visiting my blog post and as I see here, you are finding those Gentle Days in the “small things” that truly are the magnificent things. What would we do without the wonder of nature to bring us back to ourselves? Enjoy the waning rhythm of summer’s wonders as we enter into the magic of fall.

    • Bonjour, sweet Anita! Yes, Gentle Days truly nurture our heart and soul. You are so good at finding beauty around every corner, Anita. Your students are so blessed to spend their days with you! I look so forward to watching the seasons change through your lens. Autumn blessings!💗

    • Heartfelt thanks, Cathy! Being graced by of hundreds of butterflies and blossoms made it so easy to capture their delicate beauty. That peaceful, easy feeling helped me stay ‘present’ during our entire time in the exhibition. Such a gift! Sending Autumn blessings across the miles, Cathy!💗

  5. Thank you so much, Dawn, for the gorgeous butterfly photos. I have wanted to see the exhibit but can’t make the trip or walk much. It feels like being there with you. Enjoy the autumn.

    • My pleasure, Aquila! Hope you peeked at the short video, too! While writing, I discovered that the Chicago Botanic Garden has a You Tube channel just filled with short videos. Perhaps you can check it out! It just might feel like a little visit to this beautiful place! Wishing you nice Autumn days, too, Aquila. Thank you so much for visiting today!💗

    • Many thanks, dear Anne! Time spent with old friends is the sweetest. Tomorrow old friends from Germany will come to celebrate a ‘family day’ with us! We can’t wait to see them! It has been exactly seven years since we have been together. WhatsApp, phone calls, and letters help us stay close. It will be lovely to make new memories together! Hope Autumn days in California will be extra nice this year. Sending big hugs, Anne!💗

  6. I feel as if I were at the Botanical with you, Dawn, and appreciate you taking me with via this lovely, lovely post. I have not been able to seethe exhibit, so, am grateful for your words and photos (which are fantastic). I had to giggle a bit at your comment of once a teacher, always a teacher. Many of the members of my garden club are retired teachers. Field trips are a blast with them. 🙂

    • It was our first experience visiting the Butterflies and Blooms exhibition, Penny. What a treat it was! Truly enchanting! The exhibit will reopen in May.
      It’s so relaxing to take field trips now. (No more counting the children constantly!) Over the years, I took my classes to the Chicago Botanic Garden many times for Springtime lessons on plant life. My very, very, very favorite field trips were our October visits to Naper Settlement! Such a wonderful place to learn about pioneer life and history! It might be a great place to explore sometime when Kezzie and Ezra are visiting.
      Thank you so much, Penny, for your kind words. Hope you can enjoy this rainy Autumn day with a cup of tea and a good book! Mother Nature is really watering our gardens today! Sending sunny hugs! 💗

      • Funny you should mention the Naper Settlement, Dawn. I happened to be near it recently and thought it has been such a long time since I’ve been there. A visit with Kezzie and Ezra would be such fun. Thanks for the suggestion.
        I did enjoy a cup of tea this afternoon, Dawn, as the rain was pouring down! Stay safe.

      • Such a wonderful place to visit, Penny! I’ve been there so many times… and always learn something new!
        Hope all is well at your house. So much rain today!!!! 💗

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