Garden Club Awakens Blue Star Memorial Garden
Members of The Garden Club of Newtown recently spent time waking up the Blue Star Memorial Garden at VFW Post 302.
Linda Dunn, Holly Kocet, and Lisa Shirk spent part of the morning of April 28 pulling weeds and shrubs and putting in new plants for the roughly kidney-shaped garden on the corner of South Main Street (Route 25) and Mile Hill Road.
The women enjoyed the morning’s sun, but were challenged by some of the winds. While their work was swift it was also very productive.
Among the new plantings that Friday morning were Blue Star Ansonia, Mountain Mint, a Red Twice Dogwood, Bee Balm, and Coreopsis.
Holly added to the rear of the garden the ladies pointed out, will add “winter interest” once the foliage recedes and other plants go into hibernation later this year.
“In front of the sign, we’ve also planted two Little Blue Stem, a grass that will also offer winter interest,” Kocet said.
Many of the plants came from Earth Tones Native Plant Nursery in Woodbury.
Not everything was replaced that morning. Daffodils already in the ground were left in place.
The plant selections were done not only for the eye appeal for humans, but also for the benefit of pollinators and wildlife.
“We’re hoping people will drive by and see how beautiful these plants can be,” Dunn said.
Kocet is a co-founder of Protect Our Pollinators, a nonprofit group dedicated to increased awareness of threatened pollinator species, the importance of planting native plants, and the need to eliminate harmful pesticides and choose safer alternatives.
“Native plants are important for pollinators. That’s becoming more and more important,” she said.
Dunn noted that such plants are both a food source and a pollen source for bees and wildlife.
The Blue Star Memorial Garden at the VFW Post has been in place since 2003. The garden club joined forces that year with Newtown Lions Club to bring the nationwide garden program to town.
The New Jersey Council of Garden Clubs started the Blue Star Memorial Programs in 1944, as a memorial to World War II veterans. That year, the council planted 8,000 dogwood trees to honor veterans.
The National Council of State Garden Clubs adopted the program in 1945, and began a Blue Star Highway system. Large metal signs emblazoned with a blue star — the symbol displayed by families with sons and daughters away at war — and surrounded by gardens, are posted at sites for thousands of miles across the country.
The Blue Star Highway system was later expanded to pay tribute not only to veterans of World War II, but to any who have served, are serving and will serve. The signs may be placed at veterans’s facilities, national cemeteries, parks, and other civic locations.
The local garden club and Lions Club chapter shared the cost of the post and marker, which was approximately $1,000 at the time, then-Garden Club Vice President Deb Osborne told The Newtown Bee in 2011. At that time, Newtown’s was one of only three Blue Star Memorial Gardens in the state.
The Lions installed the post and marker, and the garden club continues to maintain the garden.
There are now 15 Blue Star Memorial gardens in the state, according to The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut (FGCCT). Each is sponsored by a garden club that is a member of FGCCT or by FGCCT itself.
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