Zoro Garden (Butterfly Garden)
The public garden in the heart of San Diego was designed by Bertram Goodhue for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition which was held in Balboa Park. The six-acre sunken garden is located within a stone grotto flanked by Ficus trees. It includes an assortment of colorful perennials, which serve to attract butterflies to the site. Plants have been specially selected to provide a food source for monarch, sulfur, and swallowtail butterflies throughout their respective life cycles, from the larvae (caterpillar) stage to adulthood. Flowering plants on display in the garden include milkweed, sunflower, passion vine, pincushion flower, California lilac, and verbena. In 2010, Zoro Garden was renamed Butterfly Garden in Balboa Park. The park is open to the public, with arts and crafts activities for children, and an annual butterfly release event each spring
Zoro Garden walkway
Zoro Garden bridge
Backstory and Context
Designed by Bertram Goodhue for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition, the Zoro Garden is a six acre stone grotto and sunken garden, located in between the Casa de Balboa and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. Within the stone grotto, a butterfly garden has been planted to foster the growth of butterfly populations. It provides both the larvae plants and the nectar plants that are needed as food sources to support butterflies throughout their life cycle.
In particular, swallowtails, monarchs, and sulfur butterflies can all be seen within the garden, which is filled colorful perennial plants. To support emerging butterflies while they are still in the larvae (caterpillar) stage, the butterfly garden contains plants such as milkweed, passion vine, sunflower, and California lilac. Once the butterflies reach maturity, the garden provides them with different flowering plants that offer nectar, including pincushion flower, lantana, Butterfly bush, and verbena.
In addition, the rocks of the stone grotto contain miniature indentations that are significant for butterfly populations, as they retain small pools of fresh water for butterflies to drink. Around the stone grotto, Ficus trees surround the site and help protect the flowering plants and butterflies within the garden from wind and harsh weather.
In 2010, the Zoro Garden was renamed the Butterfly Garden in Balboa Park. The Annual Butterfly Release is a free public event that takes place each May. Four hundred live Painted Lady butterflies are brought into the garden for release, in order to encourage pollination of the flowering plants throughout Balboa Park. The event is sponsored by the Friends of Balboa Park and the San Diego Floral Association. Along with butterfly viewing, it includes free arts and crafts activities for children.
Annual Butterfly Release, Friends of Balboa Park. Accessed October 14th 2021. https://friendsofbalboapark.org/annual-butterfly-release-2/.
Zoro Garden, Balboa Park. Accessed October 14th 2021. https://www.balboapark.org/gardens/zoro.
Zoro Garden, City of San Diego. Accessed October 14th 2021. https://www.sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation/parks/regional/balboa/zorogarden.