By Linda Schubert
St. Fiacre Garden Guild
Grace Church’s Garden of Remembrance and Reflection echoes its message of Enter in Peace with perennial plantings in soft, calming colors. Entering through the vine covered archway, St Fiacre statuary (holding a bouquet in one hand and a spade in the other) beckons us to sit awhile in quiet prayer while tuning out the street sounds in favor of birdsong.
This garden is tended, as are all gardens surrounding the church, by a dedicated group called St. Fiacre’s Garden Guild. The guild was established in 2005, when parishioners interested in gardening organized to create an all-encompassing landscape plan that defined the whole of the church campus with coordinated shrubs, plantings and irrigation.
The building of the new sanctuary necessitated the building of this new memorial garden. Cremains interred in the former memorial garden (situated between the sanctuary and commons) were reverently moved to this new place of rest. That fall we established the colorful garden border on the West side of the parking lot now known as Marion’s Garden (in honor of parishioner Marian Warbasse) which bloomed heartily the following spring.
On a cold, misty weekend in January 2006, with great help from Dixie Stephen’s son, Kent McGill, we began an almost six month project: reworking the grounds and parking lot for the memorial garden. Kent came in with heavy equipment and moved the brown shed and a portion of a deck behind the brown house– a tricky move with barely two inches to spare and only a branch from a bush knocked off. He helped move earth behind the brown house, took loads of brush away, and scraped rock and debris from the North (alley) side of the parking lot.
Our eager group of Guild members labored persistently throughout the summer – working the earth and feeding it with nutrients, including Schubert’s composted horse manure. We took out rocks, built structures, and painted. Bob Bosch built the stately entry arch. Finally the fence was up, the paths in place; it was time to plant and mulch. By September the garden was ready to be blessed.
Nowadays, a typical gardening day might include answering questions from visitors and parishioners alike. Once we found a young man from downstate who was resting on our garden bench. He had no place to stay while his young son was recovering at Munson. We directed him to the Spedding Food Pantry, Jubilee House, and other services. Two men came to pay their respects to a mutual friend whose cremains were recently interred near the pine tree, but they had forgotten the location. We directed them to the place and consoled them in their loss. Oh, and we did have some time for garden tending.
The gardens at Grace Church were honored to be chosen as part of the Friendly Garden Club’s 32nd Annual Garden Walk on July 17, 2014. We welcomed over 1,000 guests through the church doors and around our well kept gardens plus provided space for the refreshment and restroom break.
Amid laughter and earthworms, we have often worked alongside Jubilee House folk. We benefit from their help and friendship, while they appreciate having a way to give back to Grace Church.
Perhaps this place cannot be compared to an old Anglican churchyard cemetery. Yet in that tradition, it provides an honored resting ground for our departed while offering respite and refreshment for the living. May we all rest in peace.