We’re visiting with Ric McGee today.
In 1999–2000 the nonprofit retirement community I directed was renovated and expanded. An avid naturalist, I designed and raised funds for a community cutting garden at the home (which was built in 1960 in its present location but has been serving elderly women of limited means for over a century in Lexington, Kentucky).
Now retired, I spend 10 to 20 hours most weeks in spring, summer, and fall volunteering as the community gardener. Folks on the honor system can walk into the garden, grab a cut-off water bottle and a pair of scissors at the entrance, fill the bottle with water from a watering can, and pick a bouquet. Donations to help keep the garden maintained are accepted with great appreciation in a mailbox at the entrance. Last year, with pictures taken while I worked, I had notecards made. The cards are now another fundraiser!
Already in early spring, this garden is a great space for the residents to enjoy.
The garden welcomes all sorts of visitors, like this eastern swallowtail on lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflora, Zones 8–10 or as an annual). Lisianthus is native to the prairies of North America, though this is a cultivated form with extra layers of petals.
A monarch caterpillar munches away on some milkweed (Asclepias sp.) Caterpillars and the holes they make in leaves are less beautiful than butterflies, but if you want butterflies, you have to make sure caterpillars have plants to eat that haven’t been sprayed with insecticides.
A cloudless suphur butterfly feeds on gomphrena (Gomphrena globosa, annual). In addition to feeding butterflies, gomphrena are great cut flowers, drying perfectly and holding both their color and their shape.
A black swallowtail stops on tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica, Zones 9–11 or as an annual).
Have a garden you’d like to share?
Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!
To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.
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