By: Chris Berendt Staff Writer
October 29, 2013
The Sampson Community College’s butterfly garden, an effort of thecollege’s Horticulture Department and the Clinton Garden Club, has become cloaked in darkness — with fluttering creatures now sharing the space with a frightful number of ghosts, witches and other creepy characters.
The frightening walk through the garden, still very colorful but now inhabited by a wealth of spooky residents, will be open and available for public eyes this week. It is not a new effort, serving as an extra-credit option for Horticulture Department students, but is yet another endeavor to capture the attention of the community and get a few visitors to see what has been referred to as the community college’s little-known jewel.
“We wanted to do something to add a little something and spark, a little interest in the garden,” said Nancy Olson, chairwoman for the Horticulture Department.”This is the prettiest place on campus and a whole lot of people don’t know about it.”
A massive spider made of hay bales and industrial plastic pipe, provided by McPhail Farms and Crumpler Plastic Pipe, respectively, sits at the entrance of the garden area, a massive warning for visitors to enter at their own risk.
Michelle Sessoms, one of Olson’s Horticulture students, praised the efforts of everyone involved in decorating the garden leading up to the haunted holiday, including not only students but community partners McPhail and Crumpler.
“I wanted to make sure they got credit,”said Sessoms. “It’s something we wanted to do and they were glad to help out.”
Inside the garden, visitors will find a familiar sight as with every garden, but notice a few additions — from skeletons in the ground to ghosts floating over a koi pond. Around every corner, there is another fright to delight. It is an annual change of pace for the garden, which has played host to more than 1,000 local elementary students over the last couple years.
The educational and continually growing butterfly garden, which is maintained by the SCC Horticulture Department with the assistance of donations and school tours by the Clinton Garden Club, served as an excursion for 800 second graders across the county this year as they study the life cycles of butterflies. And the wide array of plants brings not just young students out, but some with Mount Olive College and others to identify plants as part of their studies.
“We have over half of the plants on the certified plant list,” Olson said.
She has four different classes she teaches, and former students come back from time to time — actually fairly regularly — to take part in projects, visit with Olson and talk to current students. The Halloween decorations are just one ongoing project at the back of the campus where the Horticulture Department has taken root.
A picnic area has been constructed and a space is being converted at the front of the garden into the future site of a freedom wall, similar to tunnels and other walls on other campuses that allow for freedom of expression. The wall will be made from concrete slabs that are being taken up from the previous site of the alternative schools that sat adjacent to the garden. With those mobile units now gone, it will allow the garden to expand and the wall to go up — hopefully by the end of the year, Olson said.
The space at the back of SCC is no stranger to projects.
In addition to the plethora of plant life and abundance of flowers within the garden, there is yard art — made of everything from scrap metal to rubber gloves and mortar mix — that has to be seen to be believed. Olson has also made a batch of “flowers” out of old melted 45 records, formed to resemble petals and large concrete sewer pipes have been cut and converted into growing pots and fountains. There is a wagon with wheels made completely of wood that Olson made herself.
“You can make something out of anything,” Olson said.
One particular motif, a number of mannequin legs painted pink and surrounded by pink zinnias and pink bows in trees, is a new addition in honor of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“We’ve never really had the Breast Cancer Awareness Walk,” said Olson. “I saw the pink bench and the pink zinnias and I have the pink legs … next year, we’ll put some more pink things in this area, along with some more zinnias.”
With education, art and creativity at its core, Olson said the projects — from the Halloween decorating to the yard art to the picnic area and the freedom wall — allow for camaraderie and learning, and the hope of sharing that with the general public.
“My former students come back all the time,” said Olson. “Because we have classes all day, we get to know each other pretty well and become good friends. We become a family. I might have a dozen coming back periodically. It’s really nice.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.