The completed butterfly project is the culmination of four years of planning for members of the Bloom & Grow Garden Society.
Her name is Flora, and her copper wings will dance in the sunlight in a city named Winter Garden on a thoroughfare called Plant Street.
The Bloom & Grow Garden Society has officially named its butterfly project, an art piece created by sculptor and artist Don Reynolds and installed Tuesday at a new downtown city park being built between the splash pad and the new Exchange building.
The 10-foot copper monarch butterfly is a gift to the city of Winter Garden in appreciation for 20 years of partnering and assisting with the garden club’s annual Spring Fever in the Garden festivals, which has grown and become more successful each year.
“The monarch butterfly is a symbol of metamorphosis and represents significant change,” said Gretchen Boyd, garden club founder. “Bloom & Grow Garden Society, the city of Winter Garden, and our festival, Spring Fever in the Garden, have gone through a significant metamorphosis over the past 20 years. The monarch butterfly also represents the change in our own lives — from birth to our rebirth.”
Reynolds was honored to be asked to create the butterfly.
“I’m a sculptor, and this is what I do, and I felt like it was a nice project,” he said. “I thought it would be a fun project to do a butterfly in copper. It’s been a great project.”
Laura Coar, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, also was familiar with Reynolds’ work and was instrumental in the process of bringing the art to downtown Winter Garden.
Boyd, who founded Bloom & Grow in 1997, came up with the idea of a monarch project in 2017. After brainstorming the project, club members hatched a plan to celebrate their 20th anniversary and thank the city at the same time.
Member Katy Moss Warner is president emeritus of the American Horticulture Society and a former Disney cast member who headed the horticulture department. She reached out to Reynolds, a former coworker who had experience with butterfly art. Reynolds designed and carved a large teak totem depicting the life cycle of the monarch butterfly, which was temporarily displayed at the 2000 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.
For Bloom & Grow, Reynolds made a dozen different models of the monarch butterfly; members visited his studio in Sanford and chose one featuring copper.
City officials approved the art project in 2019, and Reynolds started creating.
RAISING THE FUNDS
The garden club had lost a great deal of revenue from two canceled events in 2020 and 2021 and had to get creative in its fundraising to try to recover financially from COVID-19.
The first idea was to sell plants — and not just any plant, but the lavender queen’s wreath that grows on the trellises surrounding the fountain in Centennial Plaza. One hundred plants were sold online during the first of two plant sales. Monarch waystations also were sold.
In April of this year, the club partnered with the Garden Theatre to show the film “The Flight of the Butterflies,” a 2012 production chronicling the monarch butterfly’s migration journey.
Crooked Can held a promotion, and a percentage of beer sales went to Bloom & Grow. Alex Ramos of Plantation Jewelers designed a replica of the butterfly sculpture, with proceeds going to the garden club.
“All of our fundraisers have been a joy,” club member Joyce Carcara said.
Also instrumental in helping the club reach its fundraising goal was member Paris McNamara and her family, who donated half the cost of the sculpture in memory of their parents “who devoted their lives and resources to their beloved Winter Garden.”
Reynolds used a curved steel beam construction for the structure then applied a skin of copper and brass to the surface. He worked with Florida Metal Craft, in Winter Garden.
He created the sculpture using about 90 pounds of copper for the butterfly and a steel base upon which the butterfly will sit. With the pedestal, Flora stands nearly 10 feet high with an eight-foot wingspan. The perimeter of the outer wings was made from copper pipe one-and-one-half inches in diameter bent and shaped to full-size patterns.
The abdomen, body and head were shaped in two halves.
The structural butterfly is attached to the end of an upward spiral armature with a connection feature that allows three position options. Kinetic sculptural movement creates visual change and reduces the “static look,” Reynolds said.
The butterfly also can be removed with a boom-lift apparatus in case of hurricane-strength winds.
The city commissioned Reynolds to create a mosaic interpretation of a “compass rose” to be inlaid into the center of the pathways in the new park. It is granite and features bronze letters fabricated by Florida Metal Craft.
"Don captured, in burnished copper and the hardness of steel, the essence of the monarch's qualities of strength and tenacity along with its ethereal beauty and lightness of being. She's now ready to soar,” Carcara said.
“She’s strong, even though she looks light and airy, but she’s tenacious. And those are things that women strive to be,” she said. “She is a good spirit animal to have.
“It’s a beautiful piece and it’s going to be — along with the clock tower — (something) that people are going to come to the city to see because it’s just beautiful,” Carcara said.
This isn’t Reynolds’ first piece of art to grace downtown Winter Garden. In the late 1990s, he painted a citrus-themed mural on the east side of the Winter Garden Heritage Museum, a former train depot that handled the exportation of millions of oranges in its heyday.
Reynolds’ artwork already is prominent in Central Florida. One of his most recognizable pieces — a bronze knight charging on horseback — stands outside Spectrum Stadium, home of the UCF Knights football team.
Winter Garden is becoming known for its growing art community — from the creation of the SoBo Art Gallery to the many murals that are dotted around Plant Street — and this sculpture will add to the city’s designation as a cultural and commercial center in West Orange County.
A dedication of the butterfly sculpture is planned for the first of October.