I’m Ms. Fritillary. Some people call me a scarecrow. I think of myself as a docent. I oversee Tucker Butterfly Garden in front of Browning Courthouse, at 4898 LaVista Road, by Tucker Recreation Center. My certified pollinator garden was founded in 2008 as a DeKalb County Master Gardener site, featuring plants that provide food and shelter for caterpillars, butterflies and bees.
My Master Gardeners have a mission. They aim to:
Demonstrate the cultivation of host and nectar plants that butterflies need at each stage of their life cycle.
Educate children and adults about the lifecycle of butterflies.
Raise awareness of the role and needs of pollinators.
Demonstrate pesticide-free cultivation.
Help children and adults learn how to attract butterflies and other pollinators to their own yards and container gardens.
Provide food and habitat for our native butterflies, birds, bees and insects.
I’ve been a Tucker resident since 2009, when I took up my post here. I’m named for the Gulf Fritillary, one of the butterflies that you may see flitting about nearby, nectaring on the flowering plants.
In my supervisory role, I like to watch people work. When my Master Gardeners decided to add a native plant garden in 2015, and then made it even bigger and more beautiful in 2019, I saw how they covered the ground with plastic to solarize the soil, using the sun’s energy instead of chemicals to eliminate weeds and prepare the beds for planting.
Along my garden path, signs tell you about the lifecycle of butterflies. My Gardeners label the plants here with both common and fancy Latin names, so you know which plants are which. You get ideas for your own garden and discover native plants that support our pollinators and thrive in Georgia weather. You may also stroll to the back of Tucker Rec’s parking lot and visit a woodsy area called Trees of Tucker. My Master Gardeners also tend this place that showcases native trees and shrubs.
Do you know why we need native plants? All the native critters that live in Georgia, from birds, to butterflies to bugs, have evolved over millions of years. In those eons of time, they’ve come to need certain plants for food and shelter. When you plant natives, you help birds, butterflies and their friends survive and thrive. You take care of other living things on our planet. Native plants are a smart choice for you, too, because these plants are adapted to our climate. They like it here. Once established, they’re more drought-tolerant. You don’t need to fuss over them. Native plants are beautiful, practical and essential for life. What’s not to love?
I, too, am practical and also frugal. My Master Gardener couturier shops for me in thrift stores. I thrive outside and often wear denim. (I do like to dress up on holidays.) Birds pull out my raffia hair to feather their nests. Wasps like to dwell under my clothing. I live in harmony with nature.
To learn more about butterflies and other pollinators, you can visit our two educational kiosques. You’ll find one on each side of Tucker Recreation Center.
Please come see me as often as you like. My garden is free and open to the public. If you’d like to chat with my Gardeners, come by on the second or fourth Thursday morning of each month, when the Master Gardeners are with me, working under my watchful eye. (You won’t see them in December or January, though. They stay warm indoors and dream about gardening instead.)
I, Ms. Fritillary, am here all year long, watching over Tucker Butterfly Garden, and its fascinating cycles of life.