Things are growing with West Newbury Garden Club | Local News
WEST NEWBURY – For 85 years, the West Newbury Garden Club, founded in 1936 at the height of the Great Depression, has been dedicated to promoting civic beauty.
Club members are assigned to one of eight community garden teams. With the help of the Public Works Department, each team is responsible for planting, weeding, watering and cleaning the gardens of the 1910 Town Office Building, Elwell Town Square, Church Street Island , Ferry Lane Park (home of award-winning artist Thurlow Peony Garden), GAR Memorial Library; The Old Town Hall, Hills House Training Ground and Herb Garden.
With over 50 varieties of herbs, the garden at Hills House at 407 Main Street is a fine example of the club’s dedication to the city land in its care.
The Morse-Hills House, built around 1780 by cooper William Hills, was transferred to the Historical Society in 1957 and became a municipal museum.
In the 1960s, with a resurgence of interest in herb gardens, members of the local garden club began researching herbs, their habits and uses, according to Carrie Crowley, co-chair of the gardens. of herbs from Hill House.
Members reviewed chapters from a selected herb book to prepare for designing, planting and maintaining a garden on the grounds of the City Museum.
Some herbs were donated, others purchased, and each plant had its own identifying marker. Throughout the summer of 1966, “the members weeded and tended the garden, carrying gallon after gallon of water in jugs for thirsty plants since the water had not yet been installed in the house,” said Crowley said.
Club members created plant arrangements featuring herbs and cooked an herbal lunch with hot casseroles, cookies, bread, salads and desserts, all containing herbs from the garden. Recipes were traded and herbal gardening tips traded, Crowley said.
The crow’s-foot herb garden, in front of the small shoemaker’s shop on the Hills House property, was modeled after the Plymouth Pilgrim herb garden at the Plimoth Patuxet Museums.
Among the more unusual plants in the garden are feverfew, an herb good for treating fevers and migraines; tansy, a member of the Aster family good for treating ulcers and poor appetite; and Angelica, whose root, seeds and fruits are said to treat a wide range of medical conditions, from heartburn and circulation problems to insomnia and anorexia.
Thanks to the efforts of volunteers, the herb garden has survived the “catastrophic drought” and citywide watering bans over the years.
The club decorates wreaths and holiday gifts at the Library, 1910 Municipal Office Building, Old Town Hall, Hills House, Ferry Lane Park, Training Ground and Complex public safety; and is responsible for installing the permanent Christmas tree on the training ground.
The club has received numerous accolades and awards over the years, including the Bay State Award from the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts; Sears Citation for beautifying the training ground, planting foundations at Pentucket Regional Middle School and planting 100 tulips at Ferry Lane Park; and the Marie E. Lewis Prize for Natural Resource Conservation for the best work in acquiring, preserving and developing a natural resource; among other recognition of excellence.
The club is focused on providing speakers, workshops, exchanges with other gardeners, community activities “and promoting anything related to horticulture,” its website says.
Meetings are held the first Thursday of the month at 6:45 p.m. at the City Annex at 379 Main Street. For more information, visit wngc.org.