A local legend in gardening who passed away last year will be remembered for years to come through the creation of a special garden named in her memory.
The Extension Master GardenerSM Association of Cleveland County (EMGACC) is leading the development of this public garden to honor the life and legacy of Dotty Leatherwood. It will be located beside the LeGrand Center in Shelby.
"Dotty was well known and respected for her career in healthcare and her dedication to community service," says Anne Eskridge, one of the members of the Garden Planning Committee. "Dotty was a proponent of lifelong learning. Being an avid gardener, she was instrumental in launching Cleveland County's Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program and served as the Association's first president."
Eskridge says that the new garden will honor Leatherwood's memory by providing a community gathering space for continuing horticultural education, positive social engagement and quiet reflection.
To raise funds for the new garden, the EMGACC is holding a daylily sale/fundraiser during the month of August or as long as supplies last. Available for this sale are three new hybrids of daylilies: "Dotty's Distinctive Flair," "Dotty's Radiant Spirit," and "Deep-Hearted Dotty."
"Paul Owen of Slightly Different Nursery, a world-renowned daylily hybridizer, created and formally registered these one-of-a-kind cultivars to offer as a gift for donations of $100 or more," says Eskridge. The lilies can be picked up at the official groundbreaking event at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, at the garden site.
All proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward the creation of the garden.
Located on a wooded expanse beside the LeGrand Center and designed as an aesthetic masterpiece, Eskridge says the garden will function as a retreat for small groups and individuals, an entertainment venue and an outdoor classroom.
"Although it's intended to be used as a public space, the garden will lend the feel of a private wooded retreat," says Eskridge. "Our extensive project reclaims a natural space by protecting and preserving mature hardwood trees and restoring a creek."
Amenities will include waterfalls, winding concrete paths, walking bridges, sitting areas, and an outdoor amphitheater with grass seating.
"Shade-loving ferns will be established along the creek banks, and other areas will capture Dotty's spirit by showcasing some of her favorite landscape plants," says Eskridge. "The garden will be fully wheelchair accessible, and public parking will be available nearby."
The garden will be developed in phases as funds permit. Those interested can make tax--deductible contributions to support garden construction and long-term maintenance.
To access the form for purchasing daylilies or to make a donation to the garden, visit
www.leatherwoodgarden.org or call 704-482-4365. Check donations can be made payable to "Dotty Leatherwood Memorial Garden" and remitted to:
Master Gardener Association, 130 S. Post Road, Suite 1, Shelby, NC 28152.