Mountain Mermaid Dedicates Native Butterfly House

With shimmering transparent walls, graceful rooflines, and reclaimed antique entry doors, someone said the structure looks more like a glass chapel than a greenhouse.

Judge for yourself at the day-long opening of the newly completed Mountain Mermaid Native Butterfly House and plant nursery on October 7, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., when a big selection of pesticide-free native butterfly host and nectar plants will be offered for sale. Host plants provide food for caterpillars (larvae); nectar plants provide liquid food for adult butterflies.

Made of wood, clear polycarbonate sheathing, and shade cloth, the rustic and beautiful conservatory will contain about 400 individually potted native butterfly plants and dozens of live native butterflies.

Including the plants displayed outside, there will be upwards of 1,000 butterfly host and nectar plants for sale. These are not the typical plants that you find at most nurseries tainted with pesticides which can harm and kill butterflies. The Mermaid butterfly plants are drought tolerant, poison-free native plants that will support native butterflies, birds, and other wildlife, and help to restore a vibrant sustainable ecosystem in your garden.

Serious butterfly gardeners must have both host and nectar plants, but the key is to have lots of host plants. They are the plants that attract the females that deposit their eggs and establish a home base in your garden for butterflies to live out all four of their life stages.

Mermaid proprietor Bill Buerge will be on site to answer questions about the Mermaid’s butterfly gardens. He says don’t be disappointed if you don’t see lots of flying butterflies in the garden since October is at the end of the annual spring-summer butterfly season.

Sergio Jimenez, the Mermaid’s resident butterfly whisperer, along with wife Yaotl, and daughter Luna, will handle sales and also answer questions. Sergio is in charge of butterfly plant propagation at the Mermaid and a guiding force in the butterfly house and nursery.

Buerge urges people to get over having perfect looking plants. In fact, one sign of a successful native garden is that there are some partially eaten leaves evidencing the presence of caterpillars and other insects. Lizards, frogs, and birds all eat insects. If you want to populate your gardens with beautiful birds, birdsong and chortling frogs, plant native plants. Native plants and insects are at the lower rungs of the food chain and fundamentally essential to a healthy and thriving native ecosystem.

At 2 p.m., the immensely talented singer-songwriter and dancer, Donna DeLory, will conduct a sing-along in the Mermaid’s great room. Donna toured with Madonna for ten years as one of her two lead backup singers. This time, she will be performing with students from Topanga Elementary and Manzanita schools singing butterfly-inspired songs that she composed.

Representatives from various nature-based organizations will have tables stationed around the property eager to answer your questions and provide literature. Gail McDonald-Tune will represent the Topanga Watershed Committee. Georgia Goldfarb will be representing the Malibu Monarch Project.

Mermaid’s next-door neighbor, Clare Brown, has generously offered her flat acreage for overflow parking.


The Mountain Mermaid is located at 20421 Callon Drive, Topanga 90290. Parking is at the Mermaid or next door at Clare’s property just before you get to the Mermaid. Parking attendants and signage will help direct you. DO NOT PARK ON THE STREETS!


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