Nature lovers in the Katy area have a new place to check out insects and plants.

Willow Fork Park held a ribbon cutting June 21 for its new butterfly garden located immediately south of its pavilion and immediately west of its playground. The garden has more than 60 plants, including flowers and grasses, according to Friends of Willow Fork Park’s Facebook page.

These plants attract not only butterflies but also bumble bees and birds, said Neil Stillman, president of the Friends of Willow Fork Park, a group of volunteers that provide family-friendly, nature-based programs for the Katy community.

The idea to install a butterfly garden at the park bloomed about a year ago from Stillman and Diane Russell, a master naturalist with the Coastal Prairie Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists, they said.

Stillman wanted to host an event at the park on how to design a backyard butterfly garden—Russell’s passion—and thought it would be great to build one in Willow Fork Park, he said. With the help of volunteers, donations and the Willow Fork Drainage District, the garden grew.

“There’s a million reasons to have a butterfly garden,” Russell said and added that it helps return the suburban Cinco Ranch area to its natural grass prairie landscape, attracts pollinators and improves flood mitigation because tall grasses have deep root systems that absorb rain water.

To attract butterflies, a garden requires three types of plants, Stillman said. It needs host plants to sustain caterpillars as well as nectar plants and shelter plants. Flat stones are also needed to collect rainwater for a drinking source for the butterflies.

However, only certain types of plants attract certain types of butterflies, Sillman and Russell said. For example, milkweed is loved by monarch butterflies, while a pipevine swallowtail butterfly want a taste of a Dutchman’s pipevine.

About 60 people attended the grand opening of the garden, an approximately $1,800 investment by the Willow Fork Drainage District, which oversees the park.