Client, Year

Ladew Topiary Gardens, 2018

Services

Logo
Identity Development
Exhibition
Interpretive Graphics

Press

Photography

The Butterfly House

Exploring the life cycle of native species

This all-native butterfly house is the first of its kind in the mid-Atlantic. Ladew trains its staff to gently net butterflies and moths across its 22-acre grounds, then place them in a habitat with everything they need to complete full life cycles. Ashton worked with Ladew to create educational signage that showcases these interesting insects and the plants that sustain them, providing a stunning glimpse into a thriving local ecosystem.

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The goal of the Butterfly House is to highlight how native plants, insects, wildlife, and people interact, and how important and delicate these relationships are. By creating a beautiful place to observe every stage of a butterfly’s life, Ladew hopes to encourage visitors to support these habitats in their own yards and gardens.

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Critical to the success of the Butterfly House, and the local butterfly population at large, is making visitors fall in love with each stage of a butterfly’s life cycle. Custom-made insect magnets allow Ladew’s staff to quickly communicate what visitors will find in the Butterfly House each day, and at what stage of development.

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Equally important to the butterflies’ success are the native plants they feed upon. In other settings, they might be belittled as weeds, but here, small illustrated signs help elevate their role in the ecosystem. Nearby, larger signs walk visitors through the various stages of life for 25 different species of butterflies and moths.

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Ashton collaborated with Sue Myers, a local artist, teacher, and naturalist at Ladew, to create custom entomological and botanical illustrations. Her close relationship to the gardens helps her capture not only the details, but also the spirit, of the plants and animals she depicts.

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Wherever possible, signs are nestled among the plant life so it feels like an extension of the environment. This way, visitors can learn about the ecosystem while still observing it, creating a seamless experience that reinforces the natural magic of the Butterfly House.

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PO Box 50337, Balt., MD 21211

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