by Dorothy Thurman, Central Christian Church, Springfield MO
Events conspired to culminate in a native plant garden our people are now excited about at Central Christian in Springfield, MO.
About the same time our minister, Geoff Weinman, told us about the Green Chalice project last fall, a friend of mine offered to give me some free milkweed plants for Monarch butterflies if our church would have a spot for them. So when the new Green Committee met and we were looking over the requirements for the Green Chalice designation, the native plant garden option caught my eye, and I relayed the offer of my gardener friend for the free plants. That seemed to be a very opportune happenstance! The committee decided to explore the possibility of such a garden, and I agreed to go to the Grounds committee.
To make a long story short, everyone was agreeable, and we even had a landscaper in the church who said he could prepare the garden the next week! This was last fall, so we have now had a year with our lovely garden. My sister is a Master Gardener, and she helped me plan and plant the garden. This spring, the little plants sprouted up—everything had over-wintered just fine.
Also this spring, a church member asked if her daughter could take on the garden as her Girl Scout Gold Award project. We had known the girl, Clio since she was a young girl in Culture Club, a three-day-a week after-school program that our church sponsors for Boyd, our neighborhood elementary School.
We were excited about Clio’s involvement with our new garden, and she worked in it all summer, planning, planting, weeding, and recording the butterfly species as we went. At the end of this summer the garden has flourished with both host plants (milkweed) and nectar plants for the Monarchs. We were thrilled when we found the Monarch caterpillars munching happily away in the garden. We also had Monarchs and other butterflies at our flowering plants. Culture Club kids got involved by releasing butterflies into the garden from caterpillars they’d watched develop. People in the church donated money in a bucket we put out in the hallway, with a poster explaining the life of the Monarchs. Other church people donated and helped arrange rocks around the garden.
Clio has spoken to our CWF women and given them a tour of the garden, and as a consequence, one woman wants to donate more milkweed from their farm. Clio also will speak to the Boyd School PTA, and hopes to complete her project next spring, her senior year.
We even have another garden now, just as big as the first one. I’m so grateful for our church and its commitment to being a Green Chalice church!