GMS Owner, Family Members Restore Memorial Butterfly Garden at Swanson Elementary School
Brookfield, Wis. – Three generations of the Elmbrook-based Ruedt family pulled, cut, dug and shoveled Saturday as they restored a memorial butterfly garden at Swanson Elementary School to its intended natural beauty and purpose.
Todd Ruedt, a Brookfield resident and owner of Grounds Maintenance Services, led the volunteer team and donated materials for the project. Joining him were his son, Josh, a Swanson alumnus and sixth-grader at Wisconsin Hills Middle School, and his father, Bill, a longtime Elmbrook School District resident. The three tackled a planting bed overgrown with weeds and dense foliage.
The Swanson Butterfly Garden, at the school’s southeast corner, was planted in 2009 after the death of a Swanson student. Its colorful native plants are listed as a “Monarch Waystation” by Monarch Watch, which promotes creating habitat for the orange-and-black butterfly. The area is also a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat.
The Ruedt team cut and removed two yards of dead plant material and debris from the garden. Working to beat an incoming rainstorm, they pulled weeds and trimmed back overhanging plants. The group added organic fertilizer of mushroom compost and Milorganite. A yard of double-shredded hardwood mulch topped off the project to deter weeds and retain moisture.
The work aimed to restore the planting bed to welcoming habitat for butterflies, birds and wildlife, Todd Ruedt said. Another goal was uncovering nearby descriptive signs obscured by overgrown plants. Ruedt said he decided to undertake the project after the Swanson Parent-Teacher Organization joined the C.A.R.I.N.G. Group, a new initiative that partners local businesses and schools.
The refinished butterfly garden doesn’t resemble a well-manicured bed, though. The native prairie plants – with names such as phlox, coneflowers, veronica, bee balm and black-eyed Susans – can be perceived as scraggly and unkempt.
“Nature isn’t always tidy,” Todd Ruedt observed, as bees buzzed on nearby phlox flowers. “Native landscaping has its own beauty, though, and attracts a diverse variety of insects, birds and animals. My family and I are pleased to restore this garden to a healthier, more manageable state, so that it can continue as a living memorial and educational center.”
Founded in 1999, Grounds Maintenance Services offers a full range of landscaping and yard maintenance services, plus in-home Christmas tree delivery, holiday lighting setup and snow plowing. Its professional staff prides itself on helping homeowners grow their dreams, one yard at a time.
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