In 1991, a daylily breeder and friend, Roger Mercer, gave her some fennel infested with worms. She called him to question and verify that they were indeed still friends. When assured the worms would be butterflies, they would henceforth be known as caterpillars. Raising that brood began a life-long love affair with butterflies.
After working with Roger on a daylily breeding program, he surprised her by introducing the Loretta Lutman daylily, which was registered with the Hemerocalis Society in 1993 and graced the cover of his annual catalog.
Loretta and her husband live in Asheboro, North Carolina, home of the North Carolina Zoo, where she became the first horticulture volunteer. She assisted in development of the Butterfly Garden, and was also instrumental in development of Monarch Waystations throughout the park. Her passion and curiosity for raising butterflies for study and release earned her the honorary title of “The Butterfly Lady”. She is a recipient of the Governor’s Award in the Environmental category, and Volunteer of the Year at the North Carolina Zoo.
She photographed and documented life cycles of local butterflies, and developed a program called “Observations of a Butterfly Gardener,” which she presented in Denver, Colorado at the annual AZAD conference (Associates of Zoo and Aquarium Docents), as well as NC. Master Gardener’s annual convention, and other venues throughout NC.
Loretta continues to enjoy discoveries in the garden, raising butterflies, and volunteering at the NC Zoo.
This book is dedicated to my husband, George. Throughout our entire married life, with every new, difficult or challenging activity, he has supported and encouraged me, and has always been openly proud of me when I succeeded. To my boyfriend, husband and best friend, I thank you with all my heart. You helped make this happen.