The second in a series of articles spotlighting individuals who are making a difference in Brandon through gardening.
By LYN DESMARAIS
BRANDON—During the Segment 6 construction project in Brandon, many small gardens were created in Brandon, adding to the parks we already have: Green, Kennedy, Central, and Crescent. Brandon has one town employee in charge of all of the public spaces: cutting all the grass, edging, and mulching trees and gardens. It was obvious to Sarah Pattis, a keen gardener, an avid Town of Brandon supporter, and the former owner of the Brandon Inn with her husband Louis, that the town employee would probably welcome some help with these new gardens, as there were no employees added in the budget to maintain the gardens. Sarah continues:
“During Easter 2022, we happened to stay in a small town in Washington state for a week. The town had signs in their public gardens, ‘please adopt this garden.’ I looked at those signs and thought ‘oh, that’s what we need to do in Brandon. We need to divide and share the work.’ I knew that there were a lot of keen gardeners in Brandon from living here so many years. I came home to Brandon. I checked with the town and made sure that I would not tread on anyone’s toes. I counted the number of gardens. There are 27 in total. I started to email people to form a group and spoke with them when I’d see them. I had noticed that the town in Washington used plain municipal signs for those who adopted its gardens. One of Brandon’s strengths is its wonderful artists.
So, I reached out to Robin Kent and asked if she would help me make original signs. Ed Thomas made the signs. Cindy Thomas and I painted them white. Robin Kent finished painting them with a name and an original design.
The response was great. I gave my gardeners simple instructions. Keep the gardens tidied, weeded, and cut back. Pick up litter and poop and that was it. Almost every one of the gardeners has done much more than I have asked. The gardens took off from there. People are taking real pride in what they’re doing. In some gardens, the gardeners have added perennials, others have added annuals, with some adding both. We have a spring workday and a workday sometime in the fall. We help each other, we clean up the gardens thoroughly, and we plant bulbs and mulch.
The bulbs, mulch, and Robin Kent’s signs that we have added to the gardens are paid for by the Town of Brandon. We try to use local Vermont companies to supply us. We get soil and mulch from local stores. Currently we are getting our bulbs from a company called American Meadows. They are headquartered in Shelburne, Vermont and sell online. Among other things, their wildflowers are in the following gardens: the library, Kirk Thomas’s pocket garden, Bob Reed’s bank, and the Stephen Douglas house. Sally and Warren Foster’s daughter works for American Meadows, so that’s how I heard about them originally.
If anyone wants to help out in these gardens, or adopt one when one becomes available, please contact me or Heather Nelson.”
As part of my series on beautifying Brandon I reached out to the gardeners who are adopting these gardens and asked them a few questions about why they adopted a garden and what their gardening style is.
The bus stop garden. This garden is on the east side of Center Street near the bus stop, Congregational Church, and cemetery.
“I decided to care for the ‘bus stop garden’ because Sarah needed someone,” says Jessica Doos. “My husband, Jay Merluzzi, agreed to help me care for it. Plants make people happy. The garden was already planted with Catmint, Rudbeckia and some Potentilla bushes. The Catmint buzzes with happy bees in summer. So fun. I gave it a haircut but may need to be more assertive with it! A centerpiece of this garden is Joe Pye Weed, which has sprouted in just the right place. It’s a lovely pollinator-friendly native that bloomed this summer. It gets to stay, of course. I like to have the Rudbeckia seed heads remain all winter for birds and visual interest, though this year it’s been mysteriously deadheaded…Whodunnit? Some bulbs Sarah arranged for will pop up to welcome spring after our long winter.”
Fun fact? The name Joe Pye by some accounts was the name of an actual person in the late 18th-century Massachusetts and was the cognomen or a/k/a of Joseph Shauquethqueat, an indigenous person, possibly Wampanoag or Mohican. It was possibly used to cure typhus and other fevers by making it into a tea. The name entered the English language in 1818, according to Webster’s dictionary. A scholarly article out of Michigan goes into great depth to try to find the origins of the name.
Next time we switch to trees, Part 4 will contain more tips from the gardeners of these 27 gardens…..