by Peter Hickman, Certified Master Gardener & 2017 President of MGNV
The idea for the Master Gardener Tribute Bench and Garden originated as a way to honor Mary Newton. Mary served as MGNV President fifteen years ago. It was a time of transition for MGNV as we went from a period of working without an extension agent and being “in charge,” to supporting the work of the agent. Mary led the organization through the transition with grace. She was patient, kind, and a good listener —a true gentle gardener. She passed from this life in September 2015.
As Master Gardener friends thought more about a tribute to Mary, they realized that she probably would not have wanted it to be all about her but would have wanted to honor the work all Master Gardeners past and present. An ad-hoc committee formed to pursue this idea. With the support of the MGNV Board, this ad-hoc committee developed a proposal and won Arlington County approval for this project last December. Once the handicapped accessible bench was installed, the ad-hoc committee prepared the soil and lovingly installed the Garden and have been keeping an eye on it ever since. In April, the Tribute Bench and Garden officially became the latest demonstration garden.
At our dedication ceremony on Tuesday, Jane Rudolph, Director, Department of Parks and Recreation for Arlington County, represented both herself and Jay Fisette and the rest of the County Board, who were unable to attend because of working meetings. Jane spoke of the importance of partnerships between the county, the state and citizen groups in accomplishing the work of the County.
Alexandria Mayor Silberberg had a City Council meeting but sent along her greetings. We had a number of other guests from Arlington Parks and Recreation staff. Our special guest was Mary Newton’s husband, John Newton.
John Newton, Jane Rudolph, Kirsten Conrad, Joe Kelly and Sue McIver did the honors of the ribbon cutting. There followed a wonderful reception on the lawn as the sun set, put on by our Hospitality Committee, Kathleen Wainio and Joanne Sweeney.
This all would not have happened without the hard work of our ad-hoc committee. I would like to thank, Tricia Rodgers and Anne Wilson who got the ball rolling, and the rest of the ad-hoc committee: Tamara Dailey, Ann Kelleran, Alison Kindler and Jane Longan. Finally, Suzanne Williams, a Master Gardener and landscape designer who drew up plans for the garden space for the county approval process.