Carolyn L. Higgins – Contributing Writer
Since 1998, Kay Coriell has worked to cultivate a dream for a lush, productive Greenway with pollinators. The vision caught on and over the last three decades has expanded into Friends of the Greenway (FROG), culminating with a Butterfly Garden Renewal Celebration Day complete with a ribbon cutting on Tuesday, July 10.
“I’ve been with the greenway for a long time when it first started around 1998 and we got the idea around 2000 to 2003 to build a butterfly garden,” said Coriell. “We put some money into this area and had college kids to come and help plant some basic shrubs that have lasted. I love plants and animals and things that go together. I’m interested in pollinators because it is such an important thing. Almost 85 percent of the plants we eat are pollinators. We don’t think about these things so much, but we really need to because they are a part of our world.”
Coriell recruited family, friends, students and financial donors. Each facet played a significant role leading up to the event, but the garden eventually succumbed to lack of ongoing labor, resources and funding. With renewed energy, vigor and a boost from a Macon County Unrestricted Endowment Fund grant, administered by the North Carolina Community Foundation, Coriell, FROG board members, major financial contributors and volunteers pushed into high gear to accomplish the milestone. There are even shrubs with markers for people who wish to have memorials for a family member or friend. The renovated garden was a welcome sight for the community.
“I moved here a year ago from Cincinnati, and I’ve always been interested in gardening,” said Mary Ann Asbury. “When I was walking along here and saw the Monarch sign, I wondered where the garden was last year because there was nothing here.”
A friend from FROG invited Asbury to come down and help. She enjoyed those hours helping and is proud to come back and appreciate the garden while hiking along the path.
Sixteen different butterflies have been seen in the Greenway. The one wooed most heavily by FROGs is the Monarch. The garden has been completed in time for the Monarch migration from Florida to Canada. Coriell and others have studied their eating patterns and planted the proper plants such as milkweed. The female will lay one egg on a milkweed after the sensors in her feet have detected this plant with the proper, sappy juices for her young.
“This garden is in the path,” said Coriell. “They will be flying by and somehow know. Some birds and a lot of insects can see different light frequencies. A lot of the plants release ultra violet rays we don’t see but the birds and the insects see it. We hope they will see plants here they like.”
Coriell and FROG also hope after seeing and liking the new garden, visitors today will spread the word and recruit more volunteers. Materials such as mulch and additional plants are also needed. They need men and women, and particularly men for some of the heavier clearing work.
Three such guys were at the water tank they hope to make functional in the near future.
“I walk on the greenway a lot and I wanted to give back,” said Tom Marsh. “It doesn’t get this way without people volunteering – doing whatever you can do for the community and for FROG. It is a big area; the county [gets] a lot of credit for what happens here, but mostly it’s volunteers. If we don’t have volunteers, it doesn’t stay nice. My wife got me involved, and our goal is to get this looking as good as it can and everybody will benefit.”
“I’ve located almost 50 birdhouses on the Greenway, and I’ve taken it upon myself to keep them repaired and checking on the baby birds as much as I can,” said George Kaye. “And it’s a great resource.”
Board member Rita St. Clair and others have seen the fruits of their passion and recruitment efforts.
“I’ve been down here on walks on occasion but only recently came down here to help with the signage project through Rita St. Clair,” said Tom Reisdorph. “I think this is so important particularly for the school children here in Macon County. I can see them coming down here on some field trips. I look at the children and families to come down and enjoy what we have. It is just a spectacular place and a magnet for Franklin, Macon County.”
Little one-year old Cayden Lee is already on the right path. His great, great grandfather visited today because Cayden wanted to go outside.
“He said ‘That way!’ so we came to the Greenway not knowing the event was here but enjoyed it,” said Samuel Lee.
Coriell was surprised today with all the people but very happy to see the continued and renewed interest.
“We need to see the world of nature in respect to people and how they act,” said Coriell. “When you sit and feel the plants grow and watch the plants and insects and see the birds come to the plants, and so forth, it is very relaxing and brings you back to your roots.”
Visit the Greenway to find out more about the butterflies that can be found in the area and the plants that maintain their lifecycle. For more information about volunteer opportunities, call FROG quarters at (828) 369-8488.