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Memorial Butterfly Garden a place to reflect on the beauty of life

The Memorial Butterfly Garden at Topeka Presbyterian Manor provides a serene spot for residents and staff to enjoy the beauty and magical qualities of nature while paying tribute to friends and family members.

Kay Jones, a Presbyterian Manor resident for six years with her husband Stephan, began thinking about establishing the garden in 2014 at the suggestion of her children, who were building their own butterfly gardens. The focus of the project took on a new meaning when fellow resident Joyce Smith passed away in a car accident in 2014.

Kay got permission to also make it a memorial garden, where residents can place plaques in honor of friends or family members who have passed.

Maintenance staff built the garden in the courtyard near the dining room patio in the spring of 2015, and Kay and her children brought in milkweed, parsley and other butterfly-friendly plants. Since then, a bench has been placed in the garden for comfort and a concrete path was constructed for ease of access.

“People can sit there and read and enjoy being outside for a while,” Kay said, adding that visitors are encouraged to look for caterpillars, chrysalis or other signs of developing butterflies.

Residents and staff can also use the area as a place to remember and honor those in their lives who have passed on. For the $10 cost of production, Kay said, a Topeka company will make a plaque that features a loved one’s name, date of passing and image of a butterfly to be placed in the garden.

“It doesn’t have to be a resident here,” Kay said. “It can be a family member or anyone. It could be a parent or a child or grandchild. Sometimes having a name there to remember is comfort to a lot of people.”

Resident Anne Rhoads has donated several times to make the memorial butterfly garden a reality in honor of her granddaughter Stephanie Anne, a KU graduate who passed away in her early-20s after falling ill.

“Giving to support the garden is a loving way to honor our dear Stephanie,” said Anne. “She was very smart. We miss her charm. She was very special, of course.”

Anne said she appreciates Kay’s dedication to establishing the garden.

“I think that Kay is a marvelous leader,” she said. “She’s just admirable.”

For more information on the garden or memorial plaques, contact Kay Jones at 785-817-2775.

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