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.
After George retired, they moved to Asheboro, North Carolina, home of the North Carolina Zoological Park, where Loretta became the first horticulture volunteer, and assisted in development of the Butterfly Garden. Her passion and curiosity for raising butterflies for study and release earned her the honorary and affectionate title of “The Butterfly Lady.” In 1993, she was a recipient of the Governor’s Award in the environmental category, and was also one of three Volunteers of the Year at the North Carolina Zoological Park.
She photographed and documented the 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). George jokes that he used to be “Dr. Lutman,” but now he is “Loretta’s husband.”
Loretta continues to enjoy discoveries in the garden, raising butterflies, volunteering, writing, and competitive ballroom dancing.
This book is dedicated to my husband, George. Throughout the past 47 years, 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.