January 15, 2021
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Hallberg Butterfly Garden

  • Photos by Gayle Turner

  • Photos by Gayle Turner

  • Photos by Gayle Turner

By: Gayle Turner
November 6, 2020

You can bring hands-on science to your own backyard and help support your own community with the first annual Autumn Native Plant Sale at Hallberg Butterfly Garden, a wildlife sanctuary whose focus is on conservation, education and the celebration of their community. Nestled among the apple orchards of Western Sonoma County, the Hallberg Butterfly Gardens cover nine acres of overgrown vines and thickets, flowering pathways and meadows. Rooted in the belief that maintaining local wildlife habitats is one of the best ways we can support our communities Hallberg Butterfly Garden has opened its doors to thousands of visitors for more than two decades to school groups, families and visitors from all over the world. Young and old alike have been able to witness the wondrous metamorphosis of the butterfly and learn about nature and habitats in the way that science should be learned which is not in a book but by experience, exploration and discovery. To date, more than 40 varieties of butterflies are known to have visited the gardens. 

The butterfly garden got its start when Hallberg’s mother, Della, planted the native Dutchman’s Pipe in the 1920s. The vine is the only plant on which the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly nests. Those butterflies had almost exclusive reign in the garden until Hallberg began to plant vines and flowers to attract other butterflies more than a half-century later. This original planting makes the west county landmark one of the oldest butterfly gardens in the county. 

Her family first laid down roots in Graton in 1883 when her grandparents, immigrants from Sweden, purchased 40 acres outside of Sebastopol. The farm grew to 130 acres where they harvested hops, berries, pears, apples and other fruit. Hallberg was known for her meticulous record-keeping, whether at the registrar’s office, in her butterfly garden, or with the weather. Her father built a weather station on the property in 1930. She carried on his tradition of collecting weather data and in 1968 the station was recognized as an official reporting station by the federal government. In retirement, she began researching butterflies and their relationships to plants. She would contact entomologists and botanists asking about plants that attract butterflies. She traveled to nurseries and searched the wilderness for the right plants. After a decade, Painted Ladies, Monarchs, Purplish Coppers, Buckeye Great Purple Hairstreaks and dozens of other butterflies joined the Pipevine Swallowtail in her garden. Every day she would document the number and type of Lepidoptera on her property. In 1997, she created a nonprofit, the Hallberg Butterfly Gardens. Over the years she personally greeted more than 35,000 people who came to her garden for tours during the spring and summer months of butterfly season. 

Louise, lovingly known as “The Butterfly Lady,” continued greeting visitors, and giving tours well into her 99th year, before passing away in 2017 at the age of 100 years old. Her indomitable spirit and profound message lives on continuing to inspire the volunteers who have given of themselves to keep her vision alive. 

Now, for the first time ever, you bring home this legacy right to your own home. For the first time since its opening, the Hallberg Butterfly Garden was not able to open this past spring due to the shelter in place orders and it is due to this that they are hosting their first ever Autumn Native Plant Sale. The sale will be held by appointment only on November 6 and 7 and then the following weekend, November 13 and 14 with over 500 plants with big healthy roots ready to join your home garden with proceeds going to help ensure that the Hallberg Butterfly Gardens continues to flourish for generations to come. It is such an easy way to help support this open-air habitat and piece of West Sonoma County history while at the same time, planting the seeds of hands-on education for your family right in your own backyard. To make an appointment visit Hallberg Butterfly Garden webpage: or contact Evan Peterman, resident Garden Manager at: or 707-823-3420. 

“By sharing the knowledge of butterflies and providing for their habitat, we seek to promote and inspire the appreciation and conservation of the wonders of nature. It is my fervent wish to enhance and preserve the Hallberg Butterfly Gardens so that future generations will always have the opportunity to behold the beauty of nature's wonderful miracle - the butterfly.”- Louise Hallberg.