In one of the strange vicissitudes of life, Irma McVey’s wildlife garden is now Kathy and Hugh’s wildlife garden.
One of my favorite things in the world to do is to visit other wildlife gardens. I love meeting other passionate wildlife gardeners and seeing what they have done to create welcoming wildlife habitats in their garden spaces.

And one of my all-time favorite wildlife gardens to visit was Irma McVey’s. I first met Irma at a wildlife garden workshop given by Pat Sutton. Every week for 8 weeks we met to learn about creating wildlife habitat gardens, attracting birds, butterflies, and other wildlife, and choosing the best plants to attract wildlife to our gardens.
Sadly, Irma McVey passed away about a year ago, and I was saddened not only by the loss of my friend, but also that this beautiful wildlife garden would pass into the hands of someone who would not appreciate this incredible wildlife habitat.

Shortly after Irma’s passing my mom became quite ill, and I needed to go to Florida to take care of her. I became my mom’s full-time caretaker, and hope that I was able to bring her some comfort and joy prior to her own passing.
After spending over two months caring for my mom and then settling her estate and planning her memorial service, I received a phone call from two very dear friends of mine who wanted to let me know that they had just finished the settlement process on Irma’s house!
Although Kathy and Hugh live in Maryland, they had been informed that this house was available in Cape May and after seeing it, they decided to make an offer. Kathy had done an internet search and discovered the articles I had written here about my visits to Irma’s wildlife garden as well as the memorial tribute I had written for her.

Imagine their surprise to discover this connection between me and this garden. And imagine my surprise to learn that my friends would now become the stewards of this important wildlife garden! Now this is an amazing example of a whole different kind of cycle of life — the passing of a wildlife garden from one caretaker to another.

Kathy Woods is passionate about wildlife. So passionate about their care and well-being that she has devoted herself to wildlife rescue and rehab at her Phoenix Wildlife Center. I can remember one time I visited her and Hugh that there was an injured Loon in the bathtub. From Eagles and hawks to songbirds, baby foxes, raccoons opossums, turtles, and so much more, Kathy works tirelessly to heal injured wildlife so that they can return to their life in the wild.

Hugh Simmons is an amazing birder and nature photographer who has been active in his local and regional Audubon societies for many years. And he recently joined the Board of Directors for the National Audubon Society.

I was so blessed to have met them both on my amazing trip to Veracruz to see the phenomenom of the River of Raptors, and we became fast friends.

This past weekend I spent a totally spontaneous time with them at their new home in Cape May, Irma McVey’s former wildlife garden, which is now Kathy and Hugh’s wildlife garden, and full of birds, butterflies, bees, and so much life.

I am so thrilled that they have made this garden their own! And I wish Kathy and Hugh very hearty congratulations on their recent wedding. It only took them 23 years 🙂

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