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SCHERERVILLE — It's a place for those looking to relax, enjoy nature or find inspiration.

The Tri-Town Safety Village Butterfly Garden has been redesigned to attract both pollinators and people, Lake County master gardener Kelly Tripp said.

Tripp arrived at the garden last year and has been leading an effort to make it more accessible, she said.

Tripp wanted to create a "demonstration garden," where visitors can learn about how to attract and sustain bees and butterflies and appreciate nature together.

"It's really a great feeling when people are like, 'Oh, that's wonderful,' or 'I didn't know that,' or 'I'm going to try that,'" Tripp said.

Lake County Community Corrections has helped by installing hardscapes, including gravel pathways and stone borders. A grant from Enbridge was used to purchase plants, Tripp said.

Volunteers help weed and maintain the beds, and Tripp and other Lake County master gardeners are available three or four days a week to answer questions. The gardeners have offered classes and invited bee and butterfly experts to give talks.

On Sunday, they will host the Monarch Celebration from 1 to 4 p.m.

Tripp, of Hammond, serves as chairwoman of the garden, which is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday. It's tucked neatly behind the Tri-Town Safety Village at 1350 Eagle Ridge Drive in Schererville.

Monarch, viceroy, red admiral and Eastern and black swallowtail butterflies have all been spotted at the garden this year, Tripp said.

Tripp said she isn't a purist when it comes to use of native plants.

She supports those who are, but her goal at the garden is for about 60 percent of plantings to be pollinator-friendly.

Tripp pointed to a bed of African milkweed and zinnias to show how a butterfly host species planted alongside a more showy flower can create an attractive display. 

"You can add another dimension," she said of using pollinator-friendly plants. "When you're adding butterflies, bees, all these pollinators, your garden comes alive."

Tripp and the other master gardeners do not use herbicides or pesticides, because they can harm the pollinators.

Monarchs migrate from Mexico to Canada and back again each year over several generations.

"We are very fortunate in Northwest Indiana, because we catch the monarchs going up and coming down," she said. 

To remain viable, the monarch population must be at least 300 million. In 2012, the population was estimated at just 25 million, she said. That number rose to 150 million in 2016. 

Tripp said every individual garden can make a difference.

During the Monarch Festival, home gardeners will learn to create a monarch waystation. Horticulturist Dolly Foster, of Hammond, will talk about rearing and releasing monarchs.

Entomologists from Purdue University will talk about their research, and representatives from the Nature Conservancy and Shirley Heinze Land Trust will be on hand. Karl Ackerman, of Wild Ones Gibson Woods Chapter, will give a talk on perennials and native plants.

Fundraising during the event will help the gardeners buy educational and art supplies for future classes, Tripp said.

To learn more or volunteer at the garden, contact Tripp at


Public safety reporter

Sarah covers crime, federal courts and breaking news for The Times. She joined the paper in 2004 after graduating from Purdue University Calumet.