Transylvania has a beautiful campus, but what is pleasing to the eye can also be useful for the environment.
The butterfly garden at the corner of Fourth Street and Broadway was the result of a student-led effort to renovate a space on campus. It consists of native plants selected for their ability to attract butterflies. The corner is a popular bus stop in downtown Lexington, and passengers enjoy the garden while waiting.
A rain garden captures water runoff from impervious surfaces such as driveways, roofs, parking lots, and patios, and allows it to soak into the ground. Rain gardens are typically planted with native plants that work together with the soil to provide important environmental benefits. The garden absorbs and filters pollutants and returns cleaner water through the ground to nearby streams. Rain gardens reduce flooding by sending water back underground, rather than onto the street. They also provide habitat for beneficial insects and wildlife.
Transylvania's rain garden borders the back of Haupt Humanities building and Haupt Plaza and was one of the first to be installed in Lexington. It was designed by Denise Y. O'Meara, RLA, ASLA, senior landscape architect at Ross Tarrant Architects, Inc., and is maintained by Transylvania's grounds staff. The plantings are native perennials, including little bluestem; lobelia; sea oats; butterfly weed; copper, yellow, and bue flag iris; sensitive fern; dwarf sweetspire; and oakleaf hydrangea.
Currently, Transylvania has two community garden spaces. A group of faculty, staff, and students maintain an organic community garden located behind Poole Residence Hall. Through a partnership with Seedleaf, Transylvania also helps maintain the London Ferrell Community Garden on property owned by Christ Church. The garden is named after Rev. Ferrell, a former slave who moved to Lexington in 1811 following the death of his owner. Rev. Ferrell served the First African Church of Lexington for 31 years, growing it to the largest congregation in all of Kentucky. He is the only person of color buried at the site.
A May term class teaches students to plan and maintain the gardens. These spaces provide a source of fresh food for participants, enhance the community spirit, and contribute to the culture of sustainability. The London Ferrell Garden is an important venue for connecting with the local, off-campus community.