Published on 10/04/17

UGA Master Gardener Extension Volunteers help restore butterfly garden for Rosalynn Carter

By Clint Thompson

The butterfly garden at former President Jimmy Carter’s home in Plains, Georgia, has received a much-needed restoration thanks to a group of University of Georgia-trained volunteers.

Earlier this spring, representatives for former first lady Rosalynn Carter sought help from the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. UGA Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Extension Volunteers, who are trained to help UGA Extension staff deliver research-based information about gardening and related topics to the public, began work on the project.

Dougherty County Extension Coordinator James Morgan, who coordinates the Master Gardener program closest to the Carters, worked with Master Gardeners in Sumter County to put in the sweat equity needed to add to the existing butterfly garden, part of the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail.

“We came in and enhanced the butterfly garden at the Carter home by adding more plants and doing some maintenance work,” Morgan said. “It was really like a restoration project.”

After an initial meeting in April with Rosalynn Carter and representatives from the National Park Service to discuss plans, exchange ideas and visit the site, the Master Gardeners began redesigning the garden.

The volunteers have conducted maintenance work on the garden, including weeding, laying pine straw, pruning and removing some plants. They have now restored native and butterfly-attracting plants and established many plants with color, including Knock Out roses.

The installation process is still ongoing, Morgan said, and upkeep of the butterfly garden will gradually be turned over to the grounds maintenance crew at the Carter home.

“The Master Gardeners did a superb job of restoring our butterfly garden, and I am deeply grateful to them,” Rosalynn Carter said.

The Master Gardeners and Morgan were honored to be asked to work on the project.

“It was pretty exciting from the standpoint that we were asked to do it and got the opportunity to go onto the site and meet and interact with the former first lady,” Morgan said. “I considered it to be an honor to work on this project for them.”

For those interested in learning more about the Master Gardener program, see

Clint Thompson is an agriculture writer based in Tifton, Georgia.

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