Down East 2013 ©
The Belfast Garden Club invites the public for a special Open Garden Day to officially unveil the newly restored cemetery Chapel in the Grove Cemetery Remembrance Garden, October 12th from 10am-4pm at Grove Cemetery, 21 Belmont Avenue, Belfast. Historic cemetery tours will be lead by Megan Pinette, president of the Belfast Historical Society, at 11am and 1pm. The event is a special fundraiser for the restoration of historic cemetery features. The $5 admission charge (regular season Open Garden tickets do not apply) includes delicious refreshments by Carol Gater Catering and cemetery tours. All proceeds will be donated to The Cemetery Trustees Capital Fund.
The celebration marks the culmination of a multi-faceted cooperative project between Grove Cemetery, The Belfast Garden Club and The City of Belfast; to renovate, update and beautify Gove Cemetery Chapel and surrounding landscape with the goal of reopening the building for use by the public. The project was started in 2003 when the building’s crumbling cellar was replaced with a sturdy and clean concrete slab. “[At that time] it was either keep [the chapel] by getting it fixed up or let it fall into the cellar hole,“ cemetery superintendent Steve Boguen remembers, ”There wasn’t a campaign to do it, I took it onto myself to budget the money, and the city council agreed to make it happen.” It is such a beautiful building Steve couldn’t let it go, he determined that if it got repaired the cemetery may be able to offer it for ceremonies, creating future revenue for the cemetery while also preserving a historic building.
October 12th will mark 2 years to the day after the first plantings were made by the Belfast Garden Club as they worked to implement a tasteful, beautiful and user-friendly landscape to support chapel functions. Hardscaping changes make outdoor services possible and comfortable including; the addition of a raised deck to hold ceremonies on, laying crushed stone around the chapel to assist with easy walking and level seating, and the installation of lovely reclaimed antique planters, a bird bath, and stone benches. All of these changes are blended seamlessly into the landscape with plantings that soften edges and bring the comfort of nature close at hand. Ann Mullen of Belfast Garden Club is the lead gardener of the project. “The chapel is the main focus,” she describes, ” the goal was to enhance the beauty of the chapel, to make it lovely from all four sides with garden beds that are simple, dignified and appropriate for the venue.” Low lying shrubs that will not block the view of the building include miniature rhododendrons, hostas and creeping bearberry, which have been planted along pathways leading to the new deck and ramp. A shiny-leaved magnolia tree is the centerpiece of a bed directly in front of the chapel. Ringed in stone, it will have brilliant blooms in spring and shimmering lights during the holidays. Pink tulips and other bulbs have been planted for spring color. In addition, more than twenty shade trees have been planted in the chapel area including; oak, Black gum, birch, and Japanese maple. They are part of the community sponsored “Remembrance Trees” program begun last fall. Each tree is now roughly 7 to 12 feet tall but over time they are expected to grow to be large shady estate trees of between 40 and 100 feet. They provide a lasting addition to the beauty of Grove Cemetery and to give the community a public opportunity to honor loved ones with stone mounted plaques at the foot of each tree.