Phyllis McGuire | View from the Village: Garden Club helps keep Williamstown The Village Beautiful

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WILLIAMSTOWN — May is a busy time for gardeners, especially certain women who help Williamstown live up to its nickname of The Village Beautiful.

Wearing green T-shirts bearing the Williamstown Garden Club logo, the women will be easy to recognize as they transfer 750 plants into flower boxes and containers in town next week.

"The gardens at Field Park (Routes 2 and 7) are a highly visible example of the club's efforts," said Karen Pellegrini, president of the Williamstown Garden Club. "When we are tending the gardens and planters, drivers honk at us and shout `Good work, keep it up,'"

A new project will be revitalizing the Sara (Sally) Tenney Osborne reading garden at the Milne Public Library. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the garden to Osborne, who was a librarian and a founder of the Williamstown Garden Club.

"We are truly a working club. Members design, plant and maintain containers all over town during spring, summer and fall," said Pellegrini, who is in developing a map showing all the places the club does plantings. Such maps ultimately will be available in various venues in town.

As for now, members of the club will plant pink lemonade mixed zinnias and pink and white Supertunias in the flower boxes on Walley Bridge, Main Street, on May 23. Free- standing containers, such as those at the post office, will be adorned with big begonias in red or pink, accented with either white Supertunias or white Scavcola cascading over the sides, according to information provided by Sue Metzner of the Beautification Committee.

Preparations for plantings begin in the fall of the preceding year.

"I meet with members of the committee in October to arrive at a design for the containers.We like to try different colors, designs, plants," Metzner said. " I place the order with Zema's Greenhouse in Stephentown, N.Y., who grow our plants from seeds with lots of TLC."

Founded in 1933, the Garden Club is made up of 60 members, about 20 of whom do the digging and other physical work involved in planting and maintaining containers as well as the Field Park and Sally Tenney gardens.

"Other members can do less strenuous work, such as sitting at a table at our plant sales and being cashiers or identifying plants," Pellegrini said.

The Spring Plant Sale, to be held May 26, in front of the Masonic Temple on Main Street, will feature perennials native to the Berkshires, including black-eyed susans and sedum. There also will be small herb plants and sprigs of dogwood to choose from.

Students will be settling into their dormitories at the start of a new academic year in September when the garden club holds its Fall House Plant Sale on the Williams College campus.

"[Students] come to the sale looking for plants that need very little care," Pellegrini said.

None of the plants they offer for sale is poisonous to children or animals, she emphasized.

The plant sales are the major fundraisers for the nonprofit organization. Monetary contributions are appreciated.

All members, year-round and seasonal residents, donate their time and effort to carrying out the club's mission: civic beautification, but Pellegrini mentioned intangible rewards. For instance, members will tour historic gardens in Adams on June 12, and on July 13 they will make a field trip to the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge. (For more information on club activities and events, visit williamstowngardenclub.org.)

Pellegrini said she also finds it satisfying to "Drive through town in summer and see such pretty flowers and keep them beautiful. It is inspiring. The work is good, too — fresh air and exercise. One-and-a-half to two hours' work can leave you tired, but you feel good about what you have accomplished."

Phyllis McGuire writes from her home in Williamstown. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.


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