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Butterflies: A gift for all occasions

| Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Monarch Garden Bouquet Butterfly Wish Bouquets
Swallowtail basket Butterfly Wish Bouquets

You've heard the slogan “Say it with flowers.”

Now you can say it with butterflies.

Joelene Meiners, a longtime butterfly breeder from Lawrence County, discovered a way to combine her colorful insects — which she ships around the country for release at funerals and fundraisers — with eco-friendly arrangements.

At her New Castle boutique, Butterfly Wish Bouquets, Meiners creates floral baskets with flowers such as carnations, garden bouquets in pots and floral arrangements inside glass lanterns. Her company delivers the arrangements in Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio, although Meiners has received many calls from people around the country hoping to buy a butterfly bouquet.

“We were looking for something where you would be able to give someone the gift of butterflies,” says Meiners, 29, of New Castle. “It's something that we only offer locally.”

Each bouquet includes at least three butterflies — either orange-and-black Monarchs or lighter-orange, black, brown and white Painted Ladies — which stay in the bouquet through a cagelike enclosure, netting or the lantern walls.

Bouquet recipients choose when to release the butterflies, which live up to two weeks. Little girls, especially, like to keep the butterflies in the bouquet as long as possible.

“It's captivating to just sit there and watch them flutter around the flower,” says Meiners, who has been raising butterflies for about a decade.

Meiners gave her company the name Butterfly Wish Bouquets as a symbol of a Native American legend: If you whisper a wish to a butterfly, the butterfly will take the wish to heaven.

Customers have ordered the bouquets for many occasions: birthdays, Easter, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day and anniversaries.

“Each person that buys ... usually they tell you the whole story about what they're buying the bouquet for. It's really interesting to hear the stories everyone has.”

Tracy Evans of Sharpsburg, Mercer County, recently sent a butterfly bouquet to a friend who was having a bad week. Evans' daughter — Miley, 5 — received a butterfly bouquet for a dance recital last year, and both mother and daughter loved it.

“They're so pretty,” says Evans, 31. “We kept ours for two days and then let the butterflies go. It was real cute when they all flew away.”

Sue Jones, 60, of New Castle, has sent several butterfly bouquets, for funerals and a birthday. The bouquets have brought comfort and joy, especially in the midst of grief.

“For a funeral, there's so much down and out and death,” Jones says. “These butterflies — they're life. ... How wonderful, in all that gloom, (mourners) know there's still life, and life goes on.”

“It's different,” she says of the butterfly bouquet. “It is unique.”

Details: 724-462-0563 or www.butterflywishbouquets.com

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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