Civic Development Grant – Veterans Memorial Lower Garden

Garden Club receives Grant from GCFM to renovate Lower Veterans Memorial
In September, the Garden Club of Norfolk received a Civic Development Grant from the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts for renovating the Lower Veterans Memorial Gardens at the Norfolk Town Cemetery. The gardens are in the Veterans section of the historic 1745 Norfolk Cemetery located at Main and Seekonk Streets in Norfolk, MA.

Figure 1 Veterans Memorial Plaza
Lower Gardens are the two areas now covered by mulch to the left and right of the granite steps. Total area is 900 sq. feet.

Restoration Plan
The club plans to build a thriving native plant garden in memory of those who served our country. Our garden proposal is for a low-maintenance plan that includes native shrubs, grasses, and perennials. Purchase of plant materials and all work will be performed by club members. As well as the grant, the Garden Club of Norfolk has received support from many local partners, including the Norfolk DPW, Norfolk American Legion Post 335, the Norfolk Historical Commission, and individual donations.

History of the site
The Veterans Memorial was originally designed by landscape architect Lowell Robinson in 1991; plants were planted on the upper level and a dedication was held on Memorial Day, 1995. The lower gardens on either side of the granite steps leading to the Memorial Plaza were planted sometime between 1996 and 2001. By 2005, all the plants in the Lower Veterans Memorial Gardens had died. Mr. Robinson drew up Restoration Recommendations in 2005, but his plans were never implemented.

Purpose of project: The purpose is to create the Lower Veterans Memorial Gardens at the Veterans Plaza to honor our veterans. Each year, Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies are held in front of the Veterans Memorial. We hope to create thriving native gardens in this area in memory of those who served our country.

Objectives: Learn what influenced the garden’s failure in the past. Learn about gardening with native plants. Design a new plan for the Lower Veterans Memorial Gardens. Work with Norfolk DPW, who will provide boulders and mulch for the garden. Plant and maintain the garden.

Size and existing site conditions
Two symmetrical sloping gardens (Figure 1) located directly below the Veterans Memorial are to the left and right of nine granite steps leading up to the memorial. There are no plants presently in the gardens, which are covered by 6-8 inches of bark mulch. Both gardens are 12’6” wide at the steps and extend 54’ from the top of the steps with lower arcs of ~60 feet extending to tapered tips (Figure 2). Total square footage of both gardens is approximately 900 square feet. The granite steps in the center are 10’ wide and the slope is 22 degrees. The gardens face west and are in full sun from 9 AM. The ends are partially shaded by trees. There is a water connection available ~ 200 feet away. Winter winds and hungry wildlife required consideration in our planning process.

Restoration Plan
Phase I – Summer 2020: Soil test samples were taken and sent to UMass Extension services. Lighting was observed at different times of day to determine how much sun was received. Architect Bob Nicodemus drew up a site plan and KPHS math teacher Neva Lazzara determined the slope of the garden. On July 1, 2020, a consultation was held with Betty Sanders, Mass. Master Gardener, and another consultation was held on July 9, 2020 with Amanda Sloan, registered landscape architect and designer specializing in native gardens. Both consultants felt that our gardens presented a challenge and would do well with native plants. They gave us recommendations for planting tips, plant selection and site planting ideas. On July 14, 2020, Norfolk’s Select Board unanimously approved a request from the club to renovate the Veterans Plaza. A list of potential plants with their names, height, width, sun requirements, bloom color and time, deer resistance, prices and sources was drawn up. A garden plan was designed that includes sources and pricing of all materials with plans for planting in the spring 2021.

Phase II – Fall 2020 – Fall 2021: Orders will be placed in early 2021 for best choices and prices. Scheduling of the installation of boulders will be dependent on the DPW’s availability, but we hope for Fall 2020.The club will supervise the choice and placement of rocks. Planting of native shrubs, grasses and perennials by club members is anticipated in Spring of 2021. The club will keep new plants well watered and will be responsible for animal and disease control, watering, pruning, and fall cleanup. A work calendar will be distributed to committee members to schedule times and maintenance tasks.

Figure 2 Lower Memorial Garden

Planting Guide and Layout

Planting Guide for North Side of the Lower Memorial Garden

Gray circles = Boulders/Rocks with diameters from 30″ to 16″.

  1. Wild Blue Indigo, Baptisia australis – 18 plants
  2. Bigroot Geranium, Geranium macrorrhizum – 18 plants                                       
  3. Sundial Lupine, Lupinus perennis  – 18 plants                                                      
  4. Eastern Beebalm, Monarda bradburia – 18 plants
  5. Bearberry, Arctostaphylos uva-uarsi – 18 plants
  6. Black Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta – 12 plants
  7. Northern Bush Honeysuckle, Diervilla ionicera ‘Kodiak Red’ – 12 plants
  8. Shenandoah Switch Grass, Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ – 24 plants
  9. Yarrow, Achilillea millefolium ‘Strawberry Seduction’ – 12 plants
  10. Giant Blue Hyssop, Agastache foeniculum ‘Blue Fortune’ – 12 plants
  11. Chokeberry, Aronia melanocarpa ‘Ground Hog’ – 18 plants
  12. Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa – 12 plants
  13. Downy Goldenrod, Solidago puberula – 12 plants
  14. New England Aster, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’ – 12 plants

Planting Guide for South Side will mirror Planting Guide for North Side. Plants #1-5 will bloom in spring-summer; plants #6-14 will bloom in the summer-fall. Selection of plants and planting layout were done by club members Liz Davey, Rick Tedoldi and Leslie Lincoln. Norfolk DPW has helped move the rocks to the site and all work will be performed by club members.

Progress (January 2021)

  • Soil test completed by UMass Extension.
  • Forty boulders and rocks identified and marked by color, size and placement number.
  • Boulders moved by Norfolk’s DPW to site.
  • Stakes placed to mark placement of boulders and rocks; red stakes on north side; yellow on south side.
  • Trench dug where boulders and rocks will be placed.
  • Some plant orders have been sent in.

Progress (March 2021)

  • All Plants have been ordered
  • Rocks moved in place and dirt filled in and tapped down. GCN thanks the Norfolk DPW crew for giving us a full day of work to get these boulders moved in place.
The Rocks are in !!!!

Progress (May 2021)

  • Members gathered and planted 10 varieties of native plants
  • Hospitality committee supplies workers with water, snacks and a lunch
  • Planting, mulching, watering and spraying for deer repellent was completed in record time.
Veterans Garden – May 8, 2021