The wife of former President Jimmy Carter, 97, has a fascination with butterflies dating back to childhood, when she was entranced by the colorful insects flitting around her mother’s flowers in Plains, Georgia, longtime friend and neighbor Annette Wise said.
That interest led to the formation of the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail, which was established in the southwest Georgia town after the former first lady grew concerned about the future of butterflies, which are crucial to the pollination of flowering plants.
Wise said she helped Carter establish a garden featuring native milkweed, a prime habitat for monarch butterflies, at the home she shares with the former president, her husband of 76 years, but the public can’t visit it because of Secret Service security concerns. So Wise planted another garden nearby that could be open to visitors, and that helped lead to the butterfly trail, which includes 76 public and private gardens around rural Plains.
Last Saturday, at an event held in honor of the former first lady’s birthday, Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter made one of their first public outings in awhile for the dedication of a new butterfly sculpture that’s part of the trail and is on property next door to where she grew up. The former first lady, using a walker, flipped a switch to illuminate the artwork at nightfall.
Jimmy Carter, who will turn 98 on Oct. 1, is the oldest living U.S. ex- president. Photos showed him seated in a wheelchair and smiling during the sculpture dedication.