Senior resident Donna Sinicrope has created a garden to attract monarch butterflies, with the help of other residents and associates at The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Donna Sinicrope has fond childhood memories of spending time with her grandmother in her Cleveland, Ohio, garden. Sinicrope was also an avid gardener for many years while she lived in Clearwater. So, it wasn’t long after Sinicrope, now 70, moved into The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay, an independent, assisted living and memory care community in St. Petersburg, that her desire to garden blossomed again.
“We have a central courtyard here at The Fountains, and that’s where I started walking when I moved here,” Sinicrope said. “And I just thought it would be a lot more pleasant for people when they were walking out and about to have some flowers out there to enjoy along the way.”
Associates at the community supported Sinicrope in establishing a Garden Club in 2019. And after one of the associates pointed out a milkweed plant – the sole food source of a monarch caterpillar – growing on a first-floor rooftop near the courtyard, the club’s mission became clear: to start a butterfly garden.
“After the associate brought the milkweed plant to my attention, I learned about the plight of the monarch butterfly, which has decreased in population by 80% [in the last 20 years],” Sinicrope said. “Also, we wanted to make it pleasant for everybody here. During COVID, a friend in the community used to sit by the glass doors and look out at the courtyard for long stretches of time, and I thought it would be really nice for him to have something to look at, like butterflies.”
Setting up and maintaining the butterfly garden has been a joint effort involving Sinicrope, other residents and associates at the community. The community’s maintenance supervisor retrieved the milkweed plant from the rain gutter, garden club members propagated more milkweed plants with cuttings from the original, and the assisted living administrator donated monarch caterpillars and a butterfly habitat.
“We are so happy we could contribute to the vision Donna and the Garden Club members had for the butterfly garden and to offer them a chance to engage in a hobby that brings them and others joy,” said Suzanne Burtzlaff, Executive Director at The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay. “Our residents, their families and our associates all benefit from our beautified, colorful courtyard.”
Over the past couple of years, the Garden Club has planted a butterfly garden that meets the criteria of a MonarchWatch.org “monarch waystation,” locations where the butterflies stop during their annual migration from Canada to Mexico. Monarchs also live in The Fountains’ garden year-round. The Garden Club raised and released nearly two dozen butterflies from caterpillars during a special community celebration this May.
Donna has also hosted a Watermark University class for residents called “The Magnificent Monarch: A Miracle of Metamorphosis.” Watermark University is an award-winning program that features a wide variety of engaging classes for residents and area seniors, often led by residents.
“I’m really appreciative that the associates have given me the freedom to provide a garden area for people,” Sinicrope said. “They’ve done some things that have really gone above and beyond. Everyone cooperates to tend the garden and to the butterflies, for everyone’s enjoyment.”
About The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay
The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay is a retirement community in St. Petersburg located at 1255 Pasadena Avenue South on a 14-acre waterfront property. The community offers independent living, assisted living and memory care, with short and long-term skilled nursing and rehabilitation at The Springs, an on-site health center operated by Summit Care. The Fountains’ vibrant lifestyle includes multiple dining options, an extensive calendar of events, outings, classes, clubs and fitness opportunities. Managed by Watermark Retirement Communities, The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay is committed to creating an extraordinary community where people thrive. For more information, visit bocaciegabay.watermarkcommunities.com.
About Watermark Retirement Communities®
Watermark creates extraordinary and innovative communities where people thrive. We believe aging is about renewal rather than retirement. Watermark communities are known for highly trained and caring associates, a lifestyle built on choice, fine amenities, integrative wellness and innovative programs including the award-winning Watermark University featuring a wide variety of engaging classes for residents and area seniors. Watermark has been named in the top 25 Best Workplaces for Aging Services in a national program conducted by the Great Place to Work Institute and published on Fortune.com. A privately held company with a reputation for over 30 years for service, innovation, integrity and financial stability, Watermark manages more than 70 retirement communities in 22 states coast to coast. Based in Tucson AZ, Watermark is ranked as the nation’s 9th-leading senior housing operator by the American Seniors Housing Association. Visit watermarkcommunities.com for more information.