Littleton gardening flash mob proud of its work

10/5/2012 2:15 PM
By Associated Press

LITTLETON, Mass. (AP) — If you think flash mobs have nothing in common with the old-fashioned hobby of gardening, you haven't met the Littleton Country Gardeners.

The club of 34 active members — ranging in age from 30s to 90s, and all women — might not turn as many heads as a flash mob that quickly forms in a public setting, and there's surely no dancing or singing involved. But it does serve more of a purpose.

This group plans its mobs, shows up at the arranged time, works its gardening magic, and then disappears again, leaving a beautified space in its wake.

"You can come for five minutes. You can come for the whole time. Whatever," said member Maria Davis, explaining the best part of the mobs, which the group has been doing since last year.

On a recent Saturday at 1 p.m., a group of five assembled at the Littleton Cemetery at the intersection of King Street and New Estate Road, fixed up a butterfly garden and, within about an hour, was gone, with some of the same members on to the next project. There were three mob-gardening sessions that day: at the cemetery, and then at Littleton Cafe at 3 p.m., and Common Convenience on Littleton Common at 5 that afternoon.

None counts among the 13 sites that the group regularly keeps up, but a member will check on them periodically for a while to water the plants and make sure everything's healthy.

The 52-year-old group does such flash-gardening about once a month.

The garden at the town-owned cemetery, a little overgrown and under-watered, needed some help. The cemetery used to have four maintenance workers and now has only two because of budget cuts, club president Sue Cummings said. That's where the Littleton Country Gardeners came in.

Members, working behind a "Garden Club at Work" sign, removed a large clump of coreopsis that had become overgrown and was destined for a garden somewhere else in town, and planted new lavender, chelone and a perennial called bee balm. A bird bath was given fresh water, and everything was given a good watering.

"My favorite part of the club is the civic part," said Jan Manchuso, a 35-year member, explaining the public good the group does. "I love making the town look better."

Manchuso became a member back when an invitation was needed before someone can join. That's no longer the case, but because the group is small, she said, "Those who are in it want to be in it."

Manchuso said she knew nothing of gardening when she joined and had to ask her granddaughter to explain what a flash mob is. She was among those doing some of the game-planning of what would go best where.

On the other end of the age range is 11-year-old Kelly Davis, a Girl Scout who was recruited by Maria Davis, her mother. Kelly likes to garden but also does the work to meet her school community-service requirements.

It's giving back that makes the gardening fulfilling, Cummings said.

Of course, spending a sunny afternoon outside doesn't hurt.

"This is therapeutic for everyone," she said. "It's so pretty to be here."


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