Decorating Cary’s Community Tree
For the Holidays
As the 2016 holiday season approached, the Town of Cary reached out to over 120 community groups for assistance in updating the various ornaments traditionally placed on their Cary Community Tree. Each group was asked to create a handmade ornament that reflected the impact they had on the Town of Cary. The Cary Garden Club was honored to participate in this ornament revitalization project for 2016. Susan Howard chaired this committee with Dorothy Koonce being her supportive committee member. As they began their work, they reflected upon the Club’s constitution charging its members to participate in activities “…..contributing to the better way of life for the citizens of our community” [Article II]. The challenge before Susan and Dorothy remained the ability to blend all the activities in which the Club participates into just one meaningful ornament.
The Cary Garden Club has been an integral part of the Town of Cary community since 1958. During the past few years, the Club has contributed to enhancing the local environment through planting and maintaining a flower garden plot within the historic Hillcrest Cemetery as well as contributing to the creation and maintenance of a beautiful Pollinator Garden at the Page Walker Art and History Museum. Several of the members also contribute personally by cultivating beautiful home gardens, many of which have been designated as “Certified Wildlife Habitats”. Five of the members’ gardens were highlighted during the ‘Garden Tour’ last June as the Club celebrated ‘National Garden Week’ with the entire Federation of Garden Clubs in America.
Creating just the ‘perfect ornament’ became the mission of this committee. Various props from local craft stores were explored before deciding on the final design for the ornament. A white snow flake was utilized as the backdrop as the Cary Garden Club’s ornament began to emerge. Incorporating the Club’s green and white colors, as well as its official flower, the rose, became a factor in the ornament’s development. Other contributions included incorporating a small bird, butterflies, a bumblebee, ribbon and, of course, flowers. The two-sided ornament created depicts all aspects of the Club’s commitment to the ‘Love of Gardening’.
The Cary Garden Club’s official ornament will have its debut during the 2016 Cary Community Holiday Party. A Community Tree is placed in the Town Hall each year and the public is invited to participate in the Town’s celebratory activities. Traditionally, the Cary Garden Club donates over 90 dozen cookies to this event each year to help feed the masses. Children leave letters to Santa in a large mailbox, and the various cultural diversities are collectively celebrated during this event. This year, the Cary Garden Club also donated this beautifully expressive ornament which truly depicts not only their commitment to the Town of Cary but also their commitment to helping to provide “a better way of life for the citizens of our community” through gardening.
Cary Garden Club Adds Beauty To It’s Community
The Cary Garden Club believes in helping to maintain the beauty of the town in which it is located. To facilitate the achievement of this commitment, maintaining a tranquil garden in Cary’s small historic cemetery has become one of their on-going projects. Hillcrest Cemetery is nestled into a residential area near the center of the Town of Cary. The cemetery measures 4.9 acres and is owned by the Town, and on official documents, it is listed as the “Cary Cemetery”. At this time there are 41 grave sites which can easily be identified with another ten which have either no inscription and/or cannot be read. The earliest burial date recorded on a tombstone is 1884, and the cemetery is still in use today. Many of the original leaders of the Town of Cary now reside in this cemetery (i.e.: Maynard, Upchurch, Young, and Carpenter family members). In the far upper corner, a small raised bed garden area is located. This is the site the Cary Garden Club maintains on a year-round basis. This site is located at the end of the narrow paved road traveling through the cemetery. At this site there is also ample room to park a car, bike, baby stroller, etc. and pause to reflect, meditate and/or briefly relax. The cemetery contains large grassy areas complementing the paved roadway which makes the site easily walkable without major hills, gullies, and/or boulders to hamper the visitor to this site. Additionally, there are several large trees providing shade, especially on a hot summer day. Jane Litton is the Chair of the committee of Garden Club members who have volunteered to assist with the maintenance of this small peaceful garden. The committee members include Denise Tally, Linda Tracy and Carolyn Campbell. The Town of Cary maintains the actual Hillcrest Cemetery and provides periodic lawn mowing and edging. The paved roadway is also cleared by the Town in the event of inclement weather, especially if a funeral service is planned in the near future because this remains an active cemetery. In the fall, leaf removal is accomplished by the Town as is the removal of any debris left after a storm. Initially, the raised bed was planted solely with beautiful annuals each season. Roughly two years ago, the decision was made to change to a primarily perennial plant garden using annuals as color accents. Several of the Club’s members have donated plants to this garden so past/present members are remembered as future committee members continue to cultivate this garden spot. Additionally, select plants have been added to represent specialty garden centers in the surrounding area. Within the past few months, a sign has been added stating: “Planted and Maintained by the Cary Garden Club”. This garden remains a “work in progress” for the Cary Garden Club with periodic work days planned by the Hillcrest Cemetery Committee to change the seasonal plants in this garden space. Activities often include weeding, removing old plants and/or fertilizing new plants. Watering is accomplished as needed, depending on the weather as well as the season of the year. Spring remains an active time for planting, but the raised bed reflects the changing of the seasons and includes spring hellebores, summer cone flowers and hostas, fall chrysanthemums, and winter pansies. The Cary Garden Club indeed continues to provide support to the Town of Cary in their efforts to beautify the environment in which all of us live, together.
The Cary Garden Club (established in 1958) enthusiastically joined with the Cary Woman’s Club (founded in 1935), and the Friends of the Page-Walker (formed in 1985) to develop a special garden dedicated to pollinators at the Page-Walker Arts and History Center in downtown Cary, North Carolina. The garden space was planned by Uri Grazel, who is a Raleigh-based Landscape Designer. Initially, work days were planned to assist in making this concept an actuality. Volunteers from all three organizations toiled together as the ground was cultivated in preparation for planting a variety of pollinator plants to attract bees, butterflies, etc. Currently there are eight members (Carolyn Campbell, June Corsetti, Carol Hierman, Jane Litton, Diane Rosendahl, Denise Tally, Linda Tracy and Linda Schmitt) of the Cary Garden Club involved with the Pollinator Garden under the leadership of Committee Chair Jane Litton. In addition to Club members, grandchildren also help in maintaining this garden. The Town of Cary also assisted by creating gravel pathways to enhance the aesthetic beauty of the planned garden.
The garden contains a variety of plants such as lantanas, salvia, peonies, asters, milk weed, cone flowers and autumn ferns. This garden blends with the other beautiful small gardens currently surrounding the Page-Walker Art and History Center. In 1985, the Friends of Page-Walker formed in an effort to save the historic Page-Walker Hotel located next to the railroad tracks in downtown Cary. The result was the creation of the Art and History Center which now houses the Cary Heritage Museum and is open to a variety of cultural events for the residents of Cary and the surrounding areas. The Pollinator Garden was identified as an opportunity to expand the Town of Cary’s commitment to residents, organizations and schools in promoting ‘Cary Garden for Wildlife Program’. Because many plants need pollinators, the Cary Garden Club could easily understand a need to promote wildlife habitats within the surrounding area. Recently, the Pollinator Garden was recognized by the National Wildlife Foundation as being a ‘Certified Wildlife Habitat’ and has met the criteria for this award designation. Within this garden there is food provided for wildlife, a water supply for the wildlife, places for the wildlife to raise their young and cover to protect wildlife from people, predators and inclement weather, and helping wildlife to thrive in a healthy habitat. Plans are underway to have the garden designated as a ‘Certified Butterfly Garden’ also.
Cary Garden Club Gives Back To Their Community
Beginning in 2015, the Cary Garden Club ventured into growing vegetables to share with the surrounding communities. Although this affluent urban area has an abundance of grocery stores, there are still many members of its community in need of fresh produce to assist them with meeting the food needs of their families. The Dorcas Ministries located in Cary helps to meet this need by providing food pantry services, as well as a thrift shop for other supplies. It is no wonder that the Cary Garden Club selected this non-profit organization to be the recipient of their weekly community garden harvest. Land was donated by a Club member and several of the members, fondly known as “the Dirt Devils”, began cultivating the crops in early 2015. Although many were amateur vegetables gardeners, the bounty for the first year’s harvest was exceptional, often harvesting 30-50 pounds of vegetables each week. As 2016 growing season begins, the Dirt Devils are hard at work again. This year, the Wake County Crisis Ministries in Apex have been added to the list of recipients. The Cary Garden Club is committed to improving the quality of life for the individuals living in their communities, and this includes promoting the growth of flowers, plants, and in recent years, vegetables.
District 10 garden party flierNational Garden Week – CARY GARDEN CLUB
As North Carolina celebrated National Garden Week, the Cary Garden Club enjoyed two days of garden tours before the temperatures climbed into the nineties again. Gardens ranged from beautiful displays of sun-loving flowers, unique plants and sculpture displays, memory and/or specialty sites, expansive displays of mini gardens and shade trees, and a butterfly oasis to a whimsical shady woodland garden. In addition, members had the option of exploring the Dirt Devils Vegetable Garden and/or the Pollinator Garden being created at the Page Walker Hotel Historic Site in Cary. To highlight the June 9-10 event, planters were created and placed at the Cary Senior Center with signs designating “National Garden Week”; following the tours, the plants will be transported to Interact and incorporated into their garden space. As the year progresses, the creation of the garden at Interact will remain an on-going project with the anticipation that again next year’s plants from this event will be added to their garden.