Veterans garden blooming
Published June 14, 2013
HARRISON TOWNSHIP — One recent weekend, as members of the Harrison Township Beautification Commission were clearing Veterans Garden for an impending massive re-planting project, a lone man approached with a look of both alarm and anger.
As commission member Sue Keehn recalled, the man asked why they were tearing apart a garden that meant so much to him and so many others.
Keehn said the man explained that he was a Vietnam War veteran and his name was one of the hundreds of names of living and deceased Harrison Township veterans listed on the Memorial Wall.
“I told him we were re-planting to make the garden more beautiful; that we were doing it for him and all the veterans,” said Keehn. “He had tears in his eyes.”
The man’s reaction is why it was so important to refresh the garden, and why so many residents, as well as the township, eagerly helped the Beautification Commission by chipping in funds to help cover for the nearly $2,000 worth of improvements.
After several months of planning, designing and prepping the garden next to Rosso Hall on L’Anse Creuse, the re-planting project was completed by the nine commission members and volunteers on June 8, the same day the new Harrison Township Museum celebrated its grand opening across the street.
Commission members, all volunteers, cleared the old beds and planted 208 blue cushion lavender plants, white out roses, icy white carpet roses, ornamental aureola forest grasses, little lime hydrangeas, variegated iris, and flats of white alyssum. Meanwhile, Harrison Township’s maintenance crews replaced a cement bench, refurbished the eagle fountain and completed repainting projects, all just in time for the summer. Keehn said there will be a re-dedication in honor of Veterans Day on Nov. 9.
“The trees and shrubbery had become too large for the scale of the garden and had started dying out,” said Keehn. “The garden was showing its age and needed to look fresh and new again. We value our veterans and their families. This garden needed to be a place of serenity and peace for those who attend it, and to honor the names on the Memorial Wall.”
Keehn said the Beautification Commission was encouraged to move forward by Harrison Township Clerk Adam Wit and Supervisor Ken Verkest. She said the Beautification Commission raised funds to purchase the plants for the garden by asking the community to contribute.
“That was a successful effort,” Keehn said. “We were so grateful to have the funding to proceed.”
Commission member Doloris Zak, 82, said it will take time before some of the new flowers reach their full maturity.
“In my experience, it will be about three years from now,” said the master gardener and retired township employee.
Commission member Charlene Loria, a member for slightly more than a year, said the effort was gratifying on multiple levels, including the fact that it was an effort to honor Harrison Township veterans.
“I like to do volunteer work, and I’m looking forward to stopping there to enjoy the aroma,” she said. “And I’m proud and honored to be able to work with such a great group of people.”
Zak had previously been a volunteer gardener at the Martha T. Berry Medical Care Facility in Mount Clemens, but wanted to help with projects closer to home, so she became a member of Harrison Township’s Beautification Commission last year. She said not only has she learned a lot from Keehn and her husband James Keehn, also a longtime commission member, but Zak has also enjoyed doing good for local veterans.
“I help with anything that has to do with the veterans because they have done so much for us,” said Zak, whose brother is a Korean War veteran. “This garden is going to be just beautiful. I think the veterans and the veterans’ families will really like it.”
The Harrison Township Beautification Commission meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Monday of every month at the Tucker Senior Center, 26980 Ballard. For more information, call Sue Keehn at (586) 465-9747
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