After several hours of hard work and dedication from volunteers and members of the Mill Creek Watershed Association, Nolensville now has an exciting new Butterfly Garden. 

At the end of July, across a three-day span, volunteers and members of the community came out to install the new garden at the Nolensville High School campus. This process involved preparing the site, planting over 25 different native plant species, and building deterrent fencing to keep the new space safe from local wildlife. 

Kathleen Dennis, Director of the Mill Creek Watershed Association, along with Micah Hargrove, a local landscape architect and native plant advocate, and Anna Crombie, a Nolensville High School Environmental Science teacher, worked together to head this project up. 

“Nolensville High School has an environmental science teacher who was interested in having the pollinator garden available for them to utilize,” Dennis said. “It’s a teaching tool for that class and any other science class that would like to use it. It’s also, in my mind, something that the arts and humanities can use because nature has influenced art since time began.” 

While the garden is beautiful to view, its purpose goes a lot deeper. This green space promotes and supports biodiversity and native pollinators, according to Dennis. It will also help infiltrate rainwater back into the ground on which it falls to prevent runoff into the creek and decreases pollutants.

Another one of its vital functions is supporting the lifecycle and prosperity of the Monarch butterfly. 

“The Monarch butterfly now has a home at the Nolensville High School campus,” Hargrove said. “Two new garden areas along the greenway feature twenty-five different native plant species that provide the Monarch butterfly with habitat and food sources. These native plants also support over one hundred species of butterflies, moths, bees, birds, and deer… all in six hundred square feet of new garden areas, reclaimed from non-native turf grasses.” 

In order to install the garden, they had to remove sod and replant the space with plantings that can withstand flooding and replace the invasive species that have been growing. They also utilized stylized millstone as a nod to Mill Creek and constructed wildlife fencing to ensure that the garden is able to flourish.

One of Dennis’s main hopes is that this garden engages the community with nature and encourages them to plant their own gardens. 

“It seemed in my mind that what we needed to do is have something visible that was positive, that stuck around, that would be there to kind of physically remind people, ‘Hey, this is what it could be, this is what we need our local creek environments to be or gardens to be,’” she said.

“We need to recreate those moments in young children’s lives where… their curiosity is piqued. They see the beauty for themselves early on and they see that it’s important to the adults and the community.”

Over the course of three hot, long days, around 20 volunteers came out to help plant and construct the new garden. Dennis said she is so appreciative of the time that people, young and old, took to help with the garden.

According to Hargrove, the bloom span for the garden is from early March until late November.

“This succession of flowering sustains the adult Monarch butterfly and other pollinators with nectar sources throughout the growing season,” he said, adding that there are also plants with evergreen foliage to last through the winter months.

The Butterfly Garden, as Dennis put it, is to help make crucial steps towards rebuilding a green world and make Nolensville more sustainable.

“Yes, it’s a gift to the school and the teachers and the students, but it’s really a gift to the town of Nolensville,” she said. “We’re hoping that it has a good, long life and is well-cherished by the community.” 

Nolensville High School is located at 1600 Summerlyn Drive, Nolensville, TN 37135. For more information on the NHS Butterfly Garden, contact the Mill Creek Watershed Association here.