Garden Photo of the Day

Ashland Terrace Garden

A garden for human and insect residents

swallowtail butterfly on bright pink flowers

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!

community garden in early spring with tulips and daffodils

Already in early spring, this garden is a great space for the residents to enjoy.

swallowtail butterfly on bright pink flowersThe 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.

close up of a bumblebee on a purple coneflowerA bumblebee explores a purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea, Zones 4–9), another great North American native that is beautiful in the garden or a vase.

close up of a monarch butterfly on a pink zinnia flowerA monarch butterfly feeds on a zinnia (Zinnia elegans, annual) bloom.

close up of monarch caterpillar on a leafA 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.

bright yellow butterfly on round pink flowersA 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.

close up of buckeye butterfly on a bright pink zinniaCommon buckeye butterfly on a zinnia

Black swallowtail butterfly on red and yellow milkweedA black swallowtail stops on tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica, Zones 9–11 or as an annual).

close up of a praying mantis on a wooden fenceA praying mantis hangs out on the fence.


Have a garden you’d like to share?

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View Comments


  1. wittyone 10/10/2022

    Oh, this is beautiful. I can see your 10 to 20 hours of handiwork a week there front and center. What better use of retirement time for you. I do hope you have volunteers who also add to the beauty----working with others is most often preferable to working alone. How big is the space?

    I can imagine the pleasure that the garden affords those living in the facility as well as people in the community at large. The bees, caterpillars, and butterflies probably think it was a genius idea to provide them with all this bounty. Beautiful gardens are always appreciated, if not acknowledged, by people just walking or driving by.

    Such a lot of good work. Keep at it!

    1. User avater
      cynthia2020 10/10/2022

      Ric - I agree with what wittyone said. I hope at some point you will share some wider views of the garden. Thanks for sharing!

  2. btucker9675 10/10/2022

    Wonderful - butterflies always brighten my day!! Thank you for your work on this lovely garden.

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 10/11/2022

    Oh, my. Really pretty!

  4. sheila_schultz 10/11/2022

    What an incredible garden for the area, it truly is special. I love the idea of the cut water bottles and scissors so folks can bring a small bouquet to their homes. I'm guessing that this small bit of thoughtfulness allows the nearby folks a sense of ownership, protection and respect for this little piece of natural heaven. Kudos!!!

  5. User avater
    simplesue 10/13/2022

    Great photos! So real it's like being there!

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