Care home residents at home with nature
Longtime volunteer Nancy Stucky has plenty of company as she works in the butterfly gardens at Bethesa Home in Goessel.
The shaded spot has grown so popular that most residents want rooms with a garden view, not one of Main St.
“I usually have an audience when I am out here weeding,” she said. “People are watching from their windows.”
Town and Country Garden Club established the garden in 1998.
Stucky began volunteering in 2000 and now coordinates its upkeep.
Six to 12 volunteers show up for work days, but Stucky does most of the maintenance herself — not that she minds.
“I have the satisfaction of knowing that residents, staff, and families come out here and enjoy it,” she said.
A few skeptics doubted anything would grow in the site’s poorly drained soil, but planners were patient.
“Years of mulching has really amended the soil,” Stucky said. “The maintenance crew at Bethesda put in an automatic irrigation system. So things really thrive here.”
Most of the garden’s 150 plants and flowers attract pollinators, but a gazebo and soft color scheme give it the coziness of a cottage garden.
“We’ve tried to plant things that are familiar to the residents, that they might have had at home, like hollyhocks and daisies,” she said.
A few unusual species were added to create interest.
An orange blackberry lily will erupt with black seed pods in the fall, and a beautyberry shrub will sport glossy, purple fruit throughout winter.
And, of course, there are the butterflies.
Painted ladies and skippers flit over coneflowers and butterfly weed planted to attract them.
Milkweed and dill host the caterpillars of monarchs and swallowtails.
“There’s another one,” she said pointing out a swallowtail caterpillar crawling on the dill. “I have seen several swallowtail butterflies around here, so they must go through several cycles.”
Area school teachers have collected specimens in jars so their students can watch the caterpillars emerge as butterflies.
“I think I have seen more bees this year than I ever have in past years,” Stucky said.
After so much effort, she is glad the site has grown into more than it was expected to be.
“It’s a beautiful spot for the community to come and enjoy,” she said. “I am glad Bethesda’s residents enjoy it as well.”
Last modified Aug. 18, 2021