Volunteers of Frankfort's Fantasy Forest led a tour for the Lexington chapter of the Wild Ones on Saturday.
The group toured the micro-forest, a term invented for the site at Dolly Graham Park in South Frankfort, and learned about various plants and butterflies that are attracted to the garden. Wild Ones aims to promote awareness about how native plants can grow locally, using such plants in landscaping and what benefits native plants provide to insects, birds and other wildlife.
The Fantasy Forest was created almost eight years ago, said Connie May, who is from Frankfort. She told the visitors that she designed the micro-forest and local volunteers planted it.
Fantasy Forest volunteers on Saturday pointed out several species of plants found in the garden like elderberry and tulip poplar trees. May said that one bed of the forest is about 20 feet by 20 feet, small enough to fit in a backyard. She encouraged the group to try its own project like the Fantasy Forest.
Before the forest was built, the land was an open space without shade in Dolly Graham Park. Quickly, the trees began to grow and provide shade. When the project was created, some residents were dismayed that they might not see the trees grow tall and see the fruits of their labor.
"It's not too late to plant trees," May said.
The Wild Ones also visited the home of gardener Debra Parrish, who has lived in South Frankfort all her life and has volunteered with Fantasy Forest for about seven years.
In her backyard, she has created and maintains several beds of flowers and plants that attract many birds and butterflies to her home. During their trip, the group asked Parrish about how she created the habitat in her backyard. She shared various tips about creating not only a space for her but the wildlife in the garden. For instance, she said that leaving out some red grapes will attract birds to her backyard.
Gardening is a family affair for Parrish. When she was growing up, it was something to bond over with her mother, who mostly planted annuals. Eventually, Parrish had a child herself and she wanted something to do while her child played outside, so she turned back to gardening.
Her passion really picked up in 1987 as her child became a toddler. Parrish's parents moved out of South Frankfort and into the country and became birdwatchers, a hobby that also grew on Parrish. Therefore, she began cultivating her own habitat for birds with plants that attracted them, bird feeders and more.
"It's all for the birds," Parrish said.