How does your garden grow? Ask Beth D’Anna

To look at the comely butterfly garden at the Royal Oak Public Library, you’d never suspect the long, hard path it took to get it that way.

“That garden was put together on a wish and a prayer,” says Beth D’Anna, a Ferndale resident, certified Master Gardener and one of five volunteers who helped create the garden.

The work started last year, when D’Anna and the other four volunteers planned and excavated the garden’s layout and installed pathways and paving in and around the landscape. Spring and summer bulbs were planted last fall, and more plants were added in June. Funds were and still are slim, so the volunteers relied on discounts from businesses like Telly’s in Troy and help from area residents itching to exercise their green thumbs.

The result is impressive, with a rich array of butterfly-friendly milkweed, witch hazel and joe-pye weed, most of which are native to Michigan.

“The library wanted to put together a garden for beauty and for education,” says D’Anna, who works full time as an executive assistant for UHY Advisors, Inc., in Southfield. “Everything that’s out there is designed to be something either a butterfly will eat or the caterpillar of a butterfly can eat.”

Even more impressive, perhaps, is that such a large undertaking was planned, constructed and maintained completely by a team of volunteers. D’Anna and other community members continue to volunteer to deadhead, weed and water the garden throughout the growing season.

It’s all worth it, says D’Anna. “As a teaching tool, it’s going to be an incredible thing.”

The Ferndale resident isn’t exactly out of her element when it comes to anything garden-related, however. A lifelong gardener, D’Anna has been volunteering her expertise at places like the Royal Oak Farmers Market and the Oak Street Fair in Hazel Park.

Though she’s not about to give up community service, D’Anna’s passion for gardening has spurred a new business venture: Your Green Thumb LLC, a garden consulting service she started in February.

“I’ve always been that person who people come to and ask about their plants,” says D’Anna, “I didn’t want to be a landscape designer and I didn’t want to mow your lawn.”

But she would like to help you pick the right plants for your location, teach you about soil and growing techniques, and aid in maintaining your garden. She specializes in perennials and plants that are native to Michigan.

“I’ll plant your garden and take care of it for you,” she says. “A lot of people are too busy for that.”

D’Anna, however, is never too busy for gardening. She learned gardening as a child, when she would help both her grandmothers tend their plants. She earned her Master Gardener certification three years ago and is now passing on the hobby to her 12-year-old granddaughter.

“The greatest stress reliever in the world is working in a garden,” says D’Anna. “And when it blooms, it’s such an achievement.”

Though her business is new, D’Anna hopes that by helping people garden, a vital part of our natures, both human and ecological, can be restored.

“We’ve moved so far away from the earth. It’s time for some people to get back,” she says. “If we keep going at this rate, we’re going to be all cement.”

For information or questions about Your Green Thumb LLC, email D’Anna at or call (248) 506-4986. You may also visit the business page on Facebook.