Meet Arlington Volunteer Josephine Keeney
By Office of Communication
Posted on May 26, 2012, May 26, 2012

It's been an unlikely journey for Josephine Keeney-one that took her from bridal gowns to Texas native plants-but it's been one that the Arlington grandmother has found quite rewarding.

Keeney, who immigrated to Texas from Spain in the 1960s, is among the most enthusiastic volunteers supporting the Molly Hollar Wildscape, a four-acre section of Veteran's Park maintained as a "living lab-of native plant and ecosystem demonstration.

Keeney became involved with the wildscape about seven years ago, following her retirement as the owner of a popular bridal boutique in south central Arlington, an enterprise she managed for more than 20 years.

"I met Molly Hollar at Veterans Park one day," recalled Keeney. "I had gone there to see what the wildscape was about. I told her"when I retire, I'm going to be working here with you.'"

After her retirement, Keeney studied to become a certified naturalist, education that comes in handy at the wildscape, where she often works in the project's butterfly garden. (She's the volunteer manager of the Fielder House's butterfly garden, too. )

Her biggest job, however, is leading the wildscape's native plant cultivation at the City's greenhouse, located at Randol Mill Park.

"I raise the plants we put at the wildscape, working with a wonderful group of volunteers," she explained. "All of the plants are Texas native plants, we don't use anything else at all. This is significant because native plants are harder to find, and more difficult to grow. They're slower to propagate, which is one reason why you don't find them at stores much.

"At the greenhouse, we use a special soil mix to propagate from seed, then grow to the point that they are ready to be planted at the wildscape. It takes constant care to do it."

Keeney's passion for native plants has become a family affair. Her husband works as her presentation creator when she's asked to serve as a guest speaker at area "green" events. Together, they've worked to convert their front yard from a traditional grass one to a gorgeous native plant habitat.

"We have 156 species," said Keeney. "It"s really turned out amazing. I've loved seeing the results and the butterflies that come to enjoy the garden.

"When you work with native plants, you almost become a collector, because they're not so easy to find. I raise a lot at home, and give a lot to friends. Once I started learning about Texas native plants, it became a passion."


 Josephine Keeney

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