The town was good to the Clark Family and now its descendants want to give back to the town. Just a few months after Arden Clark Gordon’s passing in December 2017, her daughter, Robin Gordon Schaffer, approached the town with a plan. She and her extended family want to sponsor a landscape design to make the green across from the Town Hall a more inviting place. The design would incorporate two flower beds, “Arden’s Garden,” as well as some benches, trees and shrubs.
The design was drawn up by Master garden designer Leslie Martino, who made a presentation at the September Board of Selectmen meeting. The rendering shows the two flower beds extending on the east and west side of the green space to create the visual effect of “funneling” people who enter the space. Benches are placed on either side of the flower beds, with the ones close to the road facing the road, while the others are facing the pavilion. The flower beds would have some perennials as well as all-season shrubs, so that the leaves have different colors all year round.
Martino said she took care to preserve the use of the field for large gatherings such as the summer concerts that take place here. She said she did not want to disrupt the use of gathering space, but to enhance it, by creating a space where people could “stop and smell the roses…and think of Arden,” she added. Arden loved flowers; she was an active member of the Garden Club and contributed much to the town’s life.
There already is a red maple tree across from the Town Hall, planted in honor of Schaffer’s grandfather, Ted Clark, who served as the town’s first selectman from 1948-1975. Arden’s Garden will hopefully thrive in the shade of Ted’s maple.
The new garden design also suggests planting two kousa dogwoods along the police department visitor parking lot, picking up the theme of dogwoods already planted by the police station. “It ties it all together,” Martino explained. She said the Gordon Family would plant one of the two trees, in the hope that more trees and benches could be donated from town folk going forward, possibly to screen the parking lot or along Meetinghouse Lane.
The landscaping comes with maintenance, Martino said, and that it was quite clear that both the town’s park staff and the Garden Club volunteers are stretched thin taking care of existing gardens. She said the Gordon Family was prepared to pick up half of the cost for an irrigation system for the gardens.
First Selectman Beth Heller thanked Schaffer for the “lovely gift in honor of her family’s long involvement with the town.” She introduced the proposal as a public-private partnership, with the town picking up a portion of the irrigation system, about $1,150, which would come from the selectmen’s budget. The proposal would dovetail with the larger plan to enhance the center of town, she said.
Given selectmen’s approval, Martino said the implementation would happen during the month of October.
Picture: Robin Schaffer (left) and Leslie Martino present plans for a landscape design for the town green.
By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent