BANGOR — A garden blooms again in Bangor.
For years now, there has been a garden in front of the Isaac Farrar Mansion at the Bangor Y. The Encore Garden on Second Street was planted in memory of those who succumbed to breast cancer.
The problem was that the garden had become run-down in recent years.
“The garden had really fallen into disrepair,” said Suzanne Brunner, the director of Caring Connections. “That was really bothering me, because it seemed disrespectful to let that happen.”
Caring Connections, a joint program of the Y and Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, makes sure that women who are uninsured or underinsured have access to mammograms and Pap tests and provides support services for women diagnosed with breast cancer and education on women’s health issues.
Brunner and a small group of volunteers attempted to spruce up the garden last fall, but they lacked the expertise to tackle such a project.
So Brunner found some experts — in this case, volunteers from a University of Maine Extension Master Gardener class. As part of the class, students are required to perform 40 hours of community service for a number of projects seeking help.
Volunteers Leigh McCarthy, Jennifer McGovern, Linda Pinkham, Jan Placella and Torrie Tardiff decided to tackle the Encore garden.
McCarthy explained her decision to help out: “I was familiar with the Y. I recently retired as an attorney, and I had done some legal work for them. Also, the garden was in memory of those who died from breast cancer. So I was glad to be able to go and help with this garden.”
The revamping of the garden started in April, when little was growing.
“It had been neglected,” McCarthy recalled. “Also, new sidewalks had been put in at the Y, which had torn up the edges of the garden.”
Next came a soils test, she said. “The soil had a lot of salt from the sidewalks, and it was important to add materials to counter the salt.”
The volunteers were busy in those early months. They weeded, added and transplanted flowers; fertilized, mulched and composted; rescued a birdbath; got rid of moss; moved big stones around and added steppingstones. The marker identifying the Encore Garden was boosted up onto a new base donated by Freshwater Stone of Orland.
The volunteers have maintained the garden, but “we’ve let things develop over the summer,” McCarthy said. “It’s been a constant surprise, as things kept coming up that no one knew were there.”
In the fall, the volunteers plan to plant pink tulips in conjunction with the Maine Cancer Foundation’s Pink Tulip Project. In the spring, they hope to put up markers identifying the plants in the garden.
McCarthy said the volunteers had two goals in mind: “To welcome everyone into the garden, and to create a worthy memorial to the Encore members that did not survive.”
Brunner has enjoyed watching the garden flourish this summer.
“They’ve brought it back to life,” she said. “There’s been something new blooming every day. It’s been an amazing transformation.”
For more information about the Encore Garden or the Caring Connections program, call 941-2808, ext. 337.