BRENNA COHOON | JEFFERSON HERALD Jean Walker provided a tour of the Thomas Jefferson Gardens for all gathered for her butterfly gardening program.BRENNA COHOON | JEFFERSON HERALD From left to right: Kimberly Bohnet of William Paton Public Library, Jane Millard of Jefferson Public Library, Jane Walker of the Thomas Jefferson Gardens, Cara McCoy of Rippey Public Library, Marilyn Tilley of Churdan Public Library and Tammy Ross of Scranton Public Library all played a role in the facilitation of the June 22 butterfly gardening program.

Gardening knowledge takes flight

By BRENNA COHOON bcohoon@iowainformation.com

Guests of the Thomas Jefferson Gardens are welcomed into a place teeming with life. Filled with lush green foliage and bright floral blooms, the gardens feature plants from Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s estate, as well as his general era. 

A strip of prairie vegetation lines the front fence of the gardens. Some of those plants attract different pollinators, such as butterflies, and can be planted in people’s home gardens.

Early evening last Thursday , Jean Walker, the Thomas Jefferson Gardens’ head gardener, gave a talk to the community about butterfly gardening. Her presentation consisted of an in-depth tour of the gardens, detailed gardening tips and a question and answer session.

This event was sponsored by the Greene County Board of Supervisors and the Greene County libraries. According to the libraries, it served as a “companion program” to the Greene County Reads book discussions held in September at the Churdan Public Library, Rippey Public Library and Scranton Public Library. Then, the libraries invited people to read “The Butterfly Effect” by Rachel Mans McKenny and engage in conversations with the author and fellow community members.

“We were a little bit too late last fall after the book discussion, and so we contacted Jean Walker and she wanted to do it for us this summer,” said Jane Millard, the director of Jefferson Public Library.  “It’s kind of a connection from last fall to this summer, because this is the ideal time to learn about what plants attract butterflies.”

The main character of McKenny’s book works in Reiman Gardens at Iowa State University, thus prompting the libraries’ wish to host a butterfly-related gathering. Everyone at Walker’s talk was entered into a drawing for two tickets to Reiman Gardens.

For approximately 15 years, the Greene County libraries have worked together to organize similar book discussions and complementary events.

“We enjoy going outside of our libraries, and then we like to invite people in, so that’s why we move those book discussions around every year, so we can get in all six of our libraries,” Millard said. 

These programs are opportunities for the Greene County libraries to collaborate while also connecting with more of the community they serve.

“It gets people out of the library and shows that we do more than just books and movies and stuff like that,” said Kimberly Bohnet, the director of William Paton Public Library.

Attendees of the event walked away from the evening with informational papers about pollinators in gardens, as well as plants to get their butterfly gardens started.

“I think the event was great,” Walker said. “We love having people in here. We just love people getting to know Thomas Jefferson Gardens and enjoying the atmosphere.”

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Jefferson, IA 50129

Phone:(515) 386-4161