Between the Rows: Beauty of the Bridge of Flowers
Area residents look at the offerings at last year’s Bridge of Flowers annual Plant Sale in Shelburne Falls.
(Photo by Pat Leuchtman)
Shelburne Falls artist John Sendelbach stands next to the wood, metal and stone bench he created by a small crowd that followed the bench as it rode a custom 'trolley' across the Bridge of Flowers from his studio on the Buckland side to its resting place at the entrance to the bridge of flowers on the Shelburne side. Recorder/Paul Franz
When spring arrives plans and projects to spruce up our outdoor spaces, in our yards and in our towns, are set in motion. The Bridge of Flowers is a big beautiful public space, but other public spaces are getting their spruce up, too.
The Bridge of Flowers is one of the notable tourist attractions of the region. Certainly it has the most flowers per square foot anywhere. It is a joy — and an education — for the local residents who get to cross the bridge regularly on their daily rounds. For the thousands of tourists who come from as far away as China, it is an unforgettable wonder and marvel.
This year the bridge got a new bench designed and built by John Sendelbach whose studio is on the Buckland side of the Bridge. It was very exciting to have it rolled down the street, across the bridge and into its place on the Shelburne side of the Bridge. That corner of the Bridge garden is definitely spruced up.
Another bridge spruce up is not quite so visible.
As a member of the Bridge of Flowers committee and the monitor of the BOF email, one of the most frequent questions I get is ‘When is the best time to visit the bridge?’ My answer is always, ‘It depends on what kind of flowers you like best.”
The bridge opens on April 1, when only the earliest crocuses are blooming but by mid-May there are tulips, daffodils, scillas, snowflakes, hyacinths, bloodroot, jack-in-the-pulpit, blooming trees like cherry and magnolia, and a variety of annuals from pansies to peturnias and osteospermums. More annuals will be added over the next few weeks.
By June, the bridge is in the full and glorious bloom that we promise everyone. And it remains in full and glorious bloom into October when frost usually kills many bloomers, but there are always a few plants in flower after the bridge officially closes on Oct. 30.
But now anyone can check the bloom seasons because new pages on the spruced up website (www.bridgeofflowersmass.org) list all the hundreds of blooming bulbs, trees, shrubs, and perennials in their season. You will be astonished by the variety of bloom when you look at the list, which will soon include some photographs as well. For those who would like to take a virtual walk through the seasons on the Bridge of Flowers, they can scroll through the posts for the past year on Facebook. Just remember every year is a little different. We are all complaining this year about the long, cold spring that has made many plants decide to sleep a little longer than usual.
I am also a member of the Greenfield Garden Club, and our efforts to beautify and educate the community are not always so visible because they are more dispersed.
One of our most important projects is giving grants to schools for garden projects. This year Mohawk High School, as well as schools in Leverett, Shutesbury, Gill, Conway, Colrain, Heath, Leyden, the eighth grade at Greenfield High School, and the Wheeler Library in Orange have been awarded funding for projects as various as an edible garden, a greenhouse project and a Monarch Waystation. I have served on the grant committee and it is always inspiring to see the ways that teachers fit gardens into various parts of the curriculum, and the fun the students have as they learn and gain some very practical skills.
In addition, the Greenfield Garden Club works with the DPW and the Greenfield Rejuvenators, a community group devoted to the beautification of downtown. The garden club is funding the planting of containers on the medians on Main Street, Bank Row and Deerfield Street. Greenfield is getting a lot of sprucing up and the garden club is a part of that.
So how do the Bridge of Flowers and the Greenfield Garden Club fund these worthy projects? They organize plant sales!
The Greenfield Garden Club Annual Extravaganza will take place today, Saturday, May 10, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Trap Plain Garden at the intersection of Federal and Silver streets. This garden is maintained by club members. Today it will also be filled with potted perennials for sale, as well as a selection of annuals and hanging baskets from Spatcher Farms. Just in time for Mother’s Day. There will also be a raffle of garden related items like tools, and a tag sale where you can find some real bargains for the garden.
The Bridge of Flowers Annual Plant Sale will be held on Saturday, May 17, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Trinity Church Baptist Corner Lot on the corner of Main & Water streets in Shelburne Falls.
In addition to perennials off the bridge, there will be a wide assortment of annuals from LaSalles, wildflowers from Hillside Nursery, vendors selling tools, books, and other garden-related items. Shoppers will also be able to refresh themselves with a snack and drink from the food table. This is the single fundraising event for the bridge.
The Greenfield Garden Club and the Bridge of Flowers Committee are both committed to making our communities more beautiful. Making them more beautiful also makes them more attractive to visitors, and to businesses. So, shop at the plant sales and beautify your own landscape, and beautify the community at the same time.
Pat Leuchtman, who is The Recorder’s garden columnist, has been writing and gardening in Heath at End of the Road Farm since 1980. Readers can leave comments at her Web site: www.commonweeder.com.