“There is something about being able to focus on gardening instead of your problems” – Carolyn Bush
Carolyn Bush had a heart of gold, but her body wasn’t strong enough to overcome the many health problems it suffered. We knew Carolyn as a gardener and friend, but we were only a few of the people who benefitted from her warm and caring life. She was raised in Oklahoma by her mother after the death of her father when she was a child. Her physical challenges gave her a fighting spirit that took her to Columbia University in New York City to become an occupational therapist. She had a long career at Timberlawn Hospital where she helped patients with crafts to hone their motor skills. Carolyn excelled at weaving, knitting, sewing, quilting and wrote articles for national publications. She was also a professional cane weaver specializing in Victorian chairs.
Carolyn bought her cottage just east of White Rock Lake in the late 1970’s. The yard was typical of that time with huge trees and foundation and perimeter shrubs. After growing vegetables for many years, the cedar elm grew so large it covered the yard in shade and was designated a co-champion in the Texas Big Tree Registry. She loved that tree so much she wrote a book about the history of the neighborhood during the approximately 250 years of its life.
In the late 80’s Carolyn made a bold move by hiring the native plant guru Sally Wasowski to design gardens for her. The front was enhanced but was made to fit into the neighborhood. In the back yard Sally and Carolyn had fun creating a woodland wonderland with 170 different plants and trees and a pond. Carolyn’s collection of old musical instruments had grown too large for the house so she added 15 “horns” as visual highlights in her garden. It was featured in the Texas Gardener and Birds and Blooms magazines, was designated a Texas Wildlife Habitat and a Butterfly Habitat. The garden was featured on the “pond tour” of the North Texas Water Garden Society and earned a spot on the Dallas WaterWise Landscape Tour. In her later years as Carolyn’s activities were restricted, she set up her computer to look out over her beautiful back yard thru the picture window surrounded by stained glass flowers she created.
Carolyn continued her love of growing vegetables by working in the Hope Community Garden in Old East Dallas. When that property was put up for sale, she and another gardener purchased it to allow needy families to continue to raise vegetables there. Her legacy will provide nourishment for both the body and the soul.
Within the Master Gardener program, Carolyn was always content to serve as a busy “behind the scenes” worker, never seeking recognition or awards. She was a loyal volunteer at the Joe Field Road project and followed the team to Raincatcher’s Garden at Midway Hills when the property at Joe Field was sold. She spearheaded the “Buy a Brick” campaign to raise much-needed funds for the new garden. She frequently shared lessons with children that visited both gardens on field trips, even bringing a small loom to show them how to weave cotton into cloth. When she could no longer walk steadily without assistance, she valiantly came to workdays and completed tasks that could be performed seated.
For over 10 yeas she was a reliable proofreader for our Helping Hands newsletter. She also wrote the “What you Missed” article summarizing the monthly general meeting for those unable to attend. Subsequently, Carolyn agreed to serve as the layout editor of the newsletter, a task she expertly filled until her death.
Her ultimate gift to the Master Gardener program was revealed after her death, when her estate lawyer informed the DCMGA Board of a large bequest she chose to leave for the good of the organization. As an avid supporter of the Master Gardener’s mission to educate others on best horticultural practices, the Board believes that the best way to honor her legacy is to use her git to provide scholarships for students pursuing careers in horticulture. In this way, we believe her mission to educate others will live on in the students she helps prepare for their careers.