Each December, we celebrate the holiday season by hosting a workshop with the children of St. Mary’s Home in North Providence. Gorgeous evergreens donated by members are strewn across the gym floor on tarps, sparkly baubles and bows are laid out on tables and baskets lined up on the floor. At 9am the children begin to arrive in small groups. Each child is paired up with a Perennial Planter member, and together they create a basket to be donated to a local nursing home or shelter. This year our gift to each child was their own little basket (actually a red plastic cup!) to fill with greens, bows and baubles to keep or give to someone special in their life. It was a big hit! Several children said they were going to give it their mothers. At the end of the morning, 50 baskets were delivered by members to 5 local organizations throughout Providence. Our members report that this is one of our best programs. The experience is heartwarming on many levels, and we thank all who donated time, greens and support for the children.
We had an exceptional meeting on Wednesday, September 20 in the Rochambeau House Garden. It was an honor to have Peggy Sharpe and her son Doug attend the meeting. We learned about Mary Elizabeth Sharpe, her collaboration with three remarkable women who were instrumental in developing Prospect Terrace: Helen Metcalf Danforth, Mary Elizabeth Evans Sharpe and Martha Buttrick Willson Day. These women were true trailblazers, it was fascinating to hear about their vision for Providence and its historic landscape in a different time.
Thank you to Becky More for giving us the context for the development of The Mary Elizabeth Sharpe Park, her presentation can be found here. We also thank Nicole Wholean, University Curator, Registrar Brown Arts Initiative who spoke about Mary Elizabeth Sharpe - Imagination, Innovation, Inspiration.
In 2000 The Rochambeau House Garden was added to the Garden Club of America Archives of American Gardens, which is managed by Smithsonian Gardens. Peggy Sharpe and Helen Rollins (Liz Mauran's mother) were responsible for shepherding this project. As a side note, Mrs. Rollins was the driving force behind the creation of The Garden Club of America's Slide Library of Notable American Parks and Gardens which later became the core of The Garden Club of America Collection at the Smithsonian's Archives of American Gardens. In 2023, as the Zone II rep for Garden History and Design, our very own Hope Alswang wrote a detailed article about Mary Elizabeth Sharpe and the Rochambeau House Garden. I encourage you to read these articles.
We are lucky to have PP members who are knowledgeable about Mrs. Sharpe, her projects and her family. We can all be inspired! As a club, I think we should create a Mary Elizabeth Sharpe Day or yearly event in her honor. Food for thought. Please share any ideas!
The upcoming 200th birthday of Frederick Law Olmstead created a theme for discussion about the power and importance of nature for this year’s Four Club Luncheon hosted by the Perennial Planters Garden Club at the Agawam Hunt Club in East Providence.
During the past year and half, most of us spent more time outdoors walking, biking and looking for an escape from the captivity and limitations caused by the pandemic. This relief, solace and freedom we found in nature is nothing new according to Daniel Nadenicek, Professor and Draper Chair of Landscape Architecture at the University of Georgia and the speaker for this year’s gathering of 90 horticulture enthusiasts. Outdoors, under a sunny September sky, he shared the visions and works of Frederick Law Olmstead, Frederick Billings and Horace Cleveland who collectively designed, created and worked to set aside land that became some of our country’s most treasured outdoor public spaces. Among them are Central Park in New York City ( F.L. Olmstead), Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock, VT
( F. Billings, whose land conservation efforts also led to what we know as Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks) and Roger Williams Park in Providence, RI ( H. Cleveland).
These three men along with literary ‘influencers’ of the 1800’s ( ie. Andrew Jackson Downing: “plant spacious parks in your cities” ) had a clear understanding of the power and importance of creating and preserving outdoor spaces accessible to all. They believed that spending time out in nature provided mental, spiritual and physical health benefits. 150 years later, we all know this to be true. Here in Rhode Island more than a million visitors a year enjoy Roger Williams Park, designed by Horace Cleveland in 1878. He further explained his belief in the benefits of spending time outdoors in his final publication before his death: “The Influence of Parks in the Character of Children.”
This annual luncheon was organized by Liz Mauran and Nancy Compton from the Perennial Planters of Providence. Other Rhode Island clubs in attendance were from Newport, Little Compton and the South County Garden Club which will host next year’s gathering.
On May 28, 2021 Perennial Planters and (our seconding club) Newport Garden Club members came together for the Unveiling of the CheerMobile, a tour of the Farm and to arrange 10 vases of flowers for a Charity delivery that afternoon in the new van. Already, since February 16th, 2021, What Cheer Flower Farm had given away nearly 18,000 stems to deserving organizations across the state. The nan has now made it possible for the organization to expand it’s list of organizations it serves by creating the capacity to deliver flowers to those who need it the most… anywhere in Rhode Island.
By late July of 2020 the Perennial Planters was able to deliver their check for 10K to WCFF. In early March, 2021 What Cheer Flower Farm’s new Executive Director, Destenie Vital, purchased the Cheer Mobile van (a 2019 Dodge ProMaster) from Car Max in Warwick, Rhode Island for approximately $25,400. and the Perennial Planters/GCA funds helped to raise these funds plus more than 15K more, that followed.
Photographs from the 2020 Farm’s gardens were used to brand the Flower Design across the new van. The van has been used to travel the state of Rhode Island and the greater Providence area to spread cheer and pick up large amounts of donated flowers from local wholesale florists, flower farms, as well as, national retailers. The Farm now delivers to nearly 30 organizations from all over Rhode Island and the list is growing every week.
In early July the Van’s interior custom shelving was installed. Now the custom signage for the Parking Space by the new Barn will be designed and installed and will include “2020 GCA Founders Fund Finalist Grant from Perennial Planters Garden Club”. Another Unveiling will be due to inspect the van, signage, and the amazing Farm developments!
Click HERE to visit their website.