SHIRLEY — A group of local elementary-school students who banded together a couple of years ago as the “Stone Soup” gardeners gathered again one recent morning at the butterfly garden they had previously planted in front of the library.
Once everyone had arrived, they marched across the Common to plant an array of flowers at the police station.
The concept is simple: To do something to beautify the area at no cost to the town. “The flower beds were looking pretty unkempt,” said Gaynor Bigelback, who worked with the kids on the original project and organized the reunion rehab and planting party.
It was her final AmeriCorps project, she said.
It was also the kind of community effort everybody can appreciate and the town benefits from, especially since it was free, materials, labor and all.
The beautiful gardens are a gift that will keep on giving for years to come, and the young gardeners did all the work themselves, with very little parental micromanagement, Bigelback said. “It builds confidence.”
For the first butterfly garden, planted in 2008, the Friends of the Library provided seeds. This time, the new flowers came from the gardener’s exchange, a local group.
With plants in buckets, gloves and digging tools, the gardeners were prepared.
It was a hot, sunny day, but cooler in the shade in front of the police station. Police Chief J. Gregory Massak came out to greet the busy visitors and Sgt. Alfreda Cromwell even pitched in to help a worker plant a flower in earth that was turned a few days before.
Plantings were chosen with the aim of attracting butterflies, sphinx moths and native bees that pollinate. The collection of colorful bloomery included echinacea, shasta daisies, sedum, Korean mint, day lilies, Indian blanket, milkweed and others, all “powerhouse plants” when it comes to pollinating, Bigelback said.
Irises from the late Mildred Draleau’s garden were also included in the mix. It was a perfect choice, said Bigelback, whose family now lives in the house that was once hers. Mrs. Draleau was once honored with the Boston Post Cane as the oldest person in Shirley, she noted, and she loved kids as well as flowers.