A long-term partnership came to fruition on Friday when volunteers from the Gettysburg Garden Club turned out at the newest Habitat for Humanity construction site on Orrtanna Rd. and transformed the front planting area from bare soil to a fully planted and mulched display of bushes.
The project was the brainchild of Garden Club member Maryan Daniels. The idea came to her when she was on a Zoom discussion with a state gardening federation about a national program to support a club’s community projects. “They mentioned that collaboration with other entities, one of which is Habitat for Humanity, is considered when they review the grant submissions.
The idea gave Daniels, a longtime Habitat supporter “from back when you got a Christmas card from President Carter if you donated,” a big idea. She took the idea of giving the new Habitat homeowner a start on her garden to her governing board “and they immediately and enthusiastically endorsed the idea. We presented it to the entire membership and it was approved unanimously.”
The club then contacted the local chapter of Habitat. “We thought it was a great idea,” said chapter president Bill Tyson. “What a great housewarming present.”
Then came introductions to homeowner-to-be Diana Woodward, who was also enthusiastic about the project/
This wasn’t a hit-and-run project to create a beautiful spread for move-in day that might be dead by the time the leaves fall. The idea is to create a garden that will last – and that the homeowner can maintain.
“We then spent time with her to discuss what kind of gardener she wanted to be, anything from ‘she wants the garden to take care of itself to she wants to be in her garden as often as she could.” The club then planned a garden to her level of commitment, showed her pictures of plants and what kind of maintenance each would need, and suggested a master plan. “Diana picked out each plant,” said Daniels. “The club met with her at the nursery to pick out the main shrubs….educating her on how to pick out a good one”
And on planting day, a crew of about a dozen – including Woodward – showed up and breezed through the plantings. It turned out the grant program was over-subscribed but the club put up the funds. “This is a natural extension of the club members’ overall commitment to the community,” said Daniels.
“When Bill Tyson told me the Garden Club wanted to landscape the front of my home, I was overjoyed,” said Wooward. When everyone came out on planting day, I was very surprised how many kind people there are that helped make the front yard a very welcoming sight.”
Woodward says she’s in good shape now to continue the work the Garden Club started. “Working with the club opened my eyes to many new ideas which I will use to finish my gardening project. The experience was very educational,” she said.
Leon Reed, freelance reporter, is a former US Senate staff member, defense consultant, and history teacher. He is a seven year resident of Gettysburg, where he writes military history and explores the park and the Adams County countryside. He is the publisher at Little Falls Books, chaired the Adams County 2020 Census Complete Count Committee and is on the board of SCCAP and the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. He and his wife, Lois, have 3 children, 3 cats, and 5 grandchildren.