Today I walked out to the newly installed butterfly garden in Whitmore Playground. I didn’t see any butterflies, but I saw the promise of butterflies to come.
This butterfly garden was planted in honor of Bernita Boyts.
According to friend and long-time playground committee member Judy Selzer, while Bernita was still living she had talked about wanting a butterfly garden in the playground. Then, when memorial money was given in her name for the Whitmore playground this seemed like the natural thing to use it for. Judy writes, “Bernita always loved nature. The beauty and elegance of a butterfly reminded us of her.”
The three large rocks in the butterfly garden were provided by Bernita several years ago.
I only met Bernita in person a couple of times before she died and yet, people still talk about Bernita in the present tense. For example, here are some beautiful reflections about Bernita, butterflies, and nature.
From Wanda Lowenstein: “My experience with Bernita involved an ongoing questioning of the status quo—always seeking to understand and grow. It’s my sense that nature provided an opportunity for her to let go of the questioning and just enjoy the beauty and wonder of the transformative power of nature.”
From Anne Brady Bloos: “…When I first met Bernita it was in her backyard garden, which she had shaped and tended for years. I was a fledgling gardener, full of questions, and she was generous in sharing what she had learned. Here was someone who was clearly alive to beauty! Her garden was filled with colorful blooms and twisting vines. It was buzzing with pollinators — exuberant and full of life. The design and plant choices reflected her passion; she was not bound by any gardening rulebook. She had a creative, experimental approach, letting nature and beauty be her guides. The words “down-to-Earth” come to mind when I think of Bernita — the phrase describes her humor and her approach to gardening. I would hope a garden in her name would reflect the qualities Bernita brought to the endeavor: her creativity, love of beauty, respect for nature, and desire to share all of this with others. Ideally, Bernita‘s Butterfly Garden will give a variety of butterflies sustenance and shelter to complete their brief sojourn here. It will offer its human visitors an opportunity to notice the singular and intricate beauty of flowers and butterflies — one small example of the abundant gifts the earth offers us every day.”
Judy Selzer: “Bernita would say ‘take off your shoes and walk in the grass with me. It helps to ground you.’
To Judy and Wendell, Wanda, Anne, Annie, June, and many others who have contributed to this garden, I say thank you. May this be a lasting tribute to Bernita whose life lives on in the stories we tell and in the care we offer creatures both large and small, those whose feet walk the earth and those whose wings carry them to the skies.
Bernita and Hal Boyts of Hesston KS
PS: Have you noticed the folded paper butterflies hanging around the sanctuary? There are 10 in all. See if you can find them this coming Sunday!