Saturday, September 10, 2016

Thanks Frank!

“Unique Will Aids Needy Single Men: Eight Institutions Also Benefit From $100,000 Fund Provided in Will of F. W. Weston” read a headline in the Hartford Courant of November 11, 1939.   The “unique document admitted to probate by Judge Russell Z. Johnston” was the will and testament of the late Frank W. Weston of 138 Elm Street in Wethersfield, Connecticut, which created a trust fund with the Hartford-Connecticut Trust Company and stipulated, among other things:

-       “beginning 50 years from the date of Mr. Weston’s death, the Village Street Mission and the Open Hearth Mission, both of Hartford, and their successors are each to be paid $100 a year, ‘such sums to be expended solely for the assistance of needy male single persons residing in Greater Hartford’”

-       a bequest to the Town Wethersfield to “make and maintain ‘a hardy flower and rose garden to be planted on a slope of good soil and to be known as the Frank W. Weston Flower Garden” – such hereditament to be nullified “in the event the name of the street known as Elm Street, where the decedent reside, is changed.” 
In August 1978, town Mayor Cynthia Matthews announced to the Courant that work on “the Frank W. Weston Rose garden in front of the Silas Deane Junior High School will begin to take shape in the spring.”  Roses would be included in an area begun the Wethersfield Garden Club, whose members would be bringing water from home to nourish the plants until the town installed an outdoor faucet.
 Apparently nothing came of this because six years later Bill Pitkin, Wethersfield’s Parks & Rec Director, contacted me as then President of the Men’s Garden Club of Wethersfield to ask if we would develop and maintain the garden.  "We started with a few bushes but by that time the money in the account had grown so we just kept adding to the rose bushes, terracing the land, adding the brick walkway, benches, the stone walls, and the arbor," recalled club member and Rose Garden Committee Chair Rocco to the Hartford Courant on June 28, 2004. Rocco, who was also the head of the town’s Taxpayer Association and (according to the article) “can't resist turning the topic to the goings-on in town hall when given the chance” added “[the town government] could all learn a lesson from these roses….’You take care of them,’ he said, ‘and they'll take care of you.’”
Twelve years after that interview Elm Street’s name is intact, the endowment is flush, and the slightly older Men’s Garden Club of Wethersfield continues caring for the garden. 
With one small exception the flower bed is100% roses.  As a result the ground rules for maintenance are pretty straightforward – simple enough to be codified in this Haiku that we chant as call-and-response work song while toiling among the thorns:

Weston Garden rules –
Fred’s Astilbes exempted.
Not a rose.  It goes!
Actually we don’t really do that – but we could!  Even though it doesn’t rhyme – or have a decent cadence.  We totally could!
In any event, on a recent Tuesday I was laboring by myself at “The Frank” and anxious to try out my new Blue Magid Glove TE194TXL Men’s Pro Rose Gloves, which I hoped would end my three-decade string of bloodied arms and hands – and yet still be supple enough to pull out the multitude of small weeds that sully the soil beneath the fragrant flowers.  A couple of weeks previous I had bumped into club VP Howard working at the garden and noticed that he was sporting leather gauntlets.  So, because I was using too much hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin after each workday at the rose garden, I inquired as to the source of his sturdy-looking safety mitts.  The answer, as it so often seems to be today, was of course – from whom, after getting the particulars from Howard I procured a pair.
I am happy to report that they do indeed do what I hoped they would.  Delighted that now I could extricate dandelions and other tall weeds that had insinuated themselves alongside the root and within the thorny stalks of the roses, I worked myself into a sweat-drenched-frenzy for the next hour or so removing previously unapproachable aggressors.
Then, satisfied with my work I snipped off a couple of flowers for Mars at home, put my tools in my bucket, and was heading off to the car when I noticed that the two tall climbing roses in the arbor area at the top of the garden area appeared instead to be one rose, and one eight-foot tall, multi-stemmed bush.  I could not identify the shrub, but I did know (a) it was not an astilbe and (b) it was definitely not a rose.  So, definitely it goes.  When I looked more closely at the situation I discerned several thorny stalks enwrapped within the thicker stemmed outsider – an even more challenging rescue operation.
Fortunately I had my new rough-and-ready garden gauntlets and my trusty Japanese pruning saw in its hand-dandy sheath – with which I vanquished said intruder and stuffed it into the upper halves of two plastic barrels already 50% full with garden debris, and already too heavy for me to hoist up to the nearby (but uphill) trash dumpster.  Other empty barrels remained however for others to use.  So the actual dumping could be deferred until multiple able-bodies were available to do the heavy lifting.
My gardening addiction satisfied for the moment and my body hot and tired – but for the first time my arms not bloodied – I sought the comfort of home and a relaxing warm shower.
 On behalf of those of us allowed the joy of working on your slope of good soil – thanks Frank!

1 comment:

Bram said...

Hm. Bonus: the sign's set in the same font as the signage in The Village.