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Gardens & Exhibits at The Water Conservation Garden

The Dorcas E. Utter Memorial Butterfly Pavilion

The  Dorcas E. Utter Memorial Butterfly Pavilion

Dorcas E. Utter

Dorcas E. Utter
Portrait by Karen Rhiner

The late Dorcas Utter (1924-2007) was one of The Garden's most beloved docents.  She was an avid nature-lover who gave tours of The Garden with her seeing-eye dog, Sharla, by her side.  She created and managed The Garden's first volunteer training program, and most weekends she and Sharla could be found welcoming visitors at The Garden's front entrance.





Mission of the Pavilion

To provide butterfly and habitat encounters that allow visitors to learn about the importance of butterflies in the ecosystem, their lifecycle, and how humans can help sustain their populations using water-saving plants.


Their delicate beauty and magical metamorphosis capture our imaginations.  But, butterflies are much more than just lovely to look at:

  • Second to bees, butterflies are the most prolific pollinators of plants in nature, creating and sustaining food sources for wildlife and humans.

  • Butterflies serve as indicators of a healthy environment. 

  • Butterflies thrive on water-saving plants that grow well in San Diego's climate.

Unfortunately, urban sprawl and habitat destruction have caused butterfly populations to decline, with Monarchs being particularly affected.  The Garden's Butterfly Pavilion offers an interactive educational experience that teaches people about creating habitats that include butterfly nectar plants and caterpillar host plants.


Meet Our Butterflies

Click images to expand.

Become a Friend of the Butterflies at The Water Conservation Garden

The Dorcas E. Utter Memorial Butterfly Pavilion was made possible through the generosity of:

Dorcas E. Utter Family
William and Norma Verbeck Family
Village Nurseries

Mountain States Wholesale Nursery

Glass butterfly archway designed and installed by Cherrie La Porte 


Pavilion Hours

Please note:  May 9 is our annual Butterfly Festival and pavilion admission will be on a first-come, first-serve basis with festival admission.

Butterfly season:  May 9 – August 31

Friday-Sunday:  OPEN 9am-4pm, beginning May 9th

Monday-Thursday:  CLOSED

Group Tours: Thursdays only, by appointment. Contact 619-660-0614 x16 to make an appointment

Admission:  Adults $3 (18+), Kids $1 (5-17), Kids under 5 and Garden Members FREE. Tickets may be purchased in the gift shop.


Open daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.   Admission is by suggested donation.

The Water Conservation Garden is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, Federal Tax ID# 20-4395919.

The Water Conservation Garden  •  12122 Cuyamaca College Drive West  •  El Cajon  California  92019
Tel: (619) 660-0614  •  info@TheGarden.org