City celebrates refurbished Butterfly Garden
Randy Debord, Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors chairman; Barbara Garrett, Master Gardener; and Craig Price, Morristown Parks and Recreation director, reveal the completed improvements to the Butterfly Garden at Martin Luther King Jr. Park on Tuesday.
No one knows better than Master Gardener Barbara Garrett that building a garden is a try and try again effort, made better with the help of many hands.
Since 2008, Garrett has led the charge to create Morristown’s Butterfly Garden resting atop what was historically known as gravel hill, which provided adventures in play for children raised in the neighborhoods around 7th and 9th North Streets.
So it was apt that children’s voices from the playground at what is now Martin Luther King Jr. Park accompanied the Sept. 3 celebration of the improvements made to Garrett’s inspiration.
“While you are here in this park, let me encourage you to go out to the very end and catch the view and then see it from top this hill behind it,” said Manny Bedwell, University of Tennessee Extension Office, told the crowd who stood on the new concrete walkways that run between the body and wings of the garden that was designed to form the image of a swallowtail butterfly. Erin Tharp completed the design while earning a Masters of Landscape Architecture from UT.
“This park is a hidden jewel,” Bedwell said. He said the garden was a partnership between his office and the Lakeway Area Master Gardeners.
“This is a very active group, and this has been one of their main projects for the past year or two. We do appreciate your hard work, not just on this project, but many others. Barbara has just taken this over and when she has a vision, it becomes a community project until it gets done.”
Master gardener volunteers were joined by staff and ambassadors of Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce and Morristown Parks and Recreation, along with representatives from several local government offices and companies who assisted in the completed effort.
Morristown Parks and Recreation Director Craig Price acknowledged Tharp, who was in attendance, praised her design and told those in attendances that she completed landscaping plans for several Morristown parks.
“We have two of the five already accomplished and we’re proud of that,” Price said. “As you look at this facility, you can see that we approved, during our construction, the hardscape, benches and signage. The signage was actually taken from photos of butterflies, during the first year or two,” Price said.
Park lighting, electrical and water are in place, with plans to incorporate lighting among the Crepe Myrtles for future holiday events, according to Price.
Garrett journeyed up to the garden to deadhead zinnias on the morning of the celebration and ribbon cutting.
She talked about the labor intensive work, the turning 5,000 square feet of “nothing but clay and rocks” into a haven for butterflies and families.
“People have worked religiously,” Garrett said.
Garrett said the wild flower seeds were met with the challenge of extensive spring rain, delaying the planting until May. She responded by sowing a garden seed mix, including marigolds, to have the space ready for Arts in the Park.
“Zinnias are showing a lot of color,” she said. “We’re just snipping the heads of things and letting them fall, so that it will re-seed. We will upline the Crepe Myrtles. We repeated them to give cohesiveness to the space. Monkey grass will be repeated along the walkway.”
Morristown Parks workers installed green mesh benches on site, and Garrett said that during her work in the garden, she has seen people using them to eat their lunches.
The improvements have been under way, or under vision, since March 2012, Garret said. She took a power point presentation to the Morristown Utilities Commission and its members voted to give monies from their Operation Roundup, the total ended up being about $12,000, she said.
“The city added funds to install handicap-accessible concrete and enclose the butterfly wings. Weep-holes have just been added. This is a destination garden,” Garrett said.
“In each wing, there is one white Naches Crepe Myrtle, 40 feet tall, that provides dapple shade. Around that, we put yellow knockout roses, encased by green and yellow monkey grass, for all-season viewing. We have light and water to it. We plan to host holiday celebrations and hopefully, weddings,” she said.
“This is a great gift to the community of Morristown and Hamblen County. I’d like to thank MUS, the Master Gardeners and the Park Maintenance Division, Public Works Division, Bob and Barbara Garrett, Signs Now, Holden Nursery and Tennessee Green Nursery,” Price said. “It’s been a joint partnership with the City.”
Those credited with helping to complete the project included Tony Black and Curbs and More, Summers and Taylor, Morristown city engineers, Buddy Fielder, Jeff Branham, Paul Brown and Mike DeBord; Morristown City Council, Mayor Danny Thomas, City Administrator Tony Cox, Jody Wigington and the Morristown Utilities Commission and the Morristown Fire Department.
-By Glenna Howington, Tribune Staff Writer