Group gets means to make garden grow

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

EDISON — With the help of a grant and the gratis work of a few green thumbs, a historic township landmark will make an aesthetic mark on the area.

The Principal Financial Group Historic Gardens Project, an organization under the umbrella of the National Garden Clubs Inc., awarded Edison’s Terra Nova Garden Club $2,000 on Saturday to beautify the area around the Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Tower and Menlo Park Museum.

"In keeping with its mission to highlight historic sites nationwide with tailored gardens, the National Garden Clubs donated the funds to spearhead what is considered the premier historic site in our township. Through the beautification of this site, we can show our pride in our heritage to the thousands of visitors who come from our county, our state, our nation and the world," Terra Nova Garden Club spokeswoman Joan Lippi said. The club was chosen out of 400 applicants for the $2,000 grant.

Starting in June, Terra Nova forged ahead with its own historic site beautification program modeled after the national garden club’s initiative. The local group dubbed its program "Preserving the Past, Forging the Future."

The project at the museum site is the first of those endeavors intended to "create gardens at historic sites where no garden exists, or to restore an existing garden at a historic site," according to a prepared statement from the club.

With a deadline of June 2005, Terra Nova gardeners will soon start planting the design seedlings for the gardens at the museum, which is the site where inventor Thomas Alva Edison set up shop from 1876 to 1884 with a staff of 100.

During that time, they worked on inventions that set the pace for modern living, such as the phonograph, light bulb, telephone and wireless sound transmissions.

"The Edison memorial tower and museum are landmarks for local residents and out of town visitors alike," Lippi said. "By creating a garden in this historic site, our club will continue its tradition of environmental education and community service, and show a sense of pride in our city."

The gardens to mark the historic site will include an evergreen and perennial shrub garden around its entrances, front walks and seating up to the buildings, Lippi said. Preferably, boxwood and ornamental flowering trees, such as cherry and plum, will be used. To maintain a natural motif designed to complement the "woodsy suburban environment" of the area, Lippi added that drought and deer-resistant flowers such as day lilies, astilbe, periwinkle and other ornamental shrubs will be planted.

With the help of Terra Nova gardeners, township representatives, civic groups and local businesses, "[the garden] will be planted in conjunction with the renovation and enlargement of the Edison museum beginning this summer," Lippi said.

A master gardener from Middlesex County will guide the effort with added expertise, which is estimated to keep volunteers busy for a commitment of at least 100 hours each toward the project, according to the club.