Thanks to The Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County (RMGUC), Boy Scout Troop #1 (New Providence), and Come Grow With Us! (Elizabeth), the New Providence Senior Center has recently taken on a new and fresh appearance, both inside and outside its doors.

On the outside, NPSC’s new Memorial Garden was initiated by 17-year old Eric Reitemeyer as an Eagle Scout Service Project.  Eric developed the garden plan with guidance from UC Master Gardeners Nancy Hayes, Ruth O’Brien, James Coyne, Pat Meschke and Mary Krauss.

Once planning was completed on the 15’ x 35’ garden plot, Eric recruited fellow Boy Scouts to remove existing lawn, then add top soil and mulch.  Master Gardeners helped with the placement of shrubs and flowers.  Many plants were donated by the MG volunteers from their home gardens, by Boro Gardens LLC (New Providence), and by the Master Gardeners of Union County following their annual Spring Garden Fair and Plant Sale on May 20, 2012.

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The MGs were also instrumental in establishing and maintaining three raised vegetable beds, donated by Come Grow With Us!, as well as the large pots of herbs and flowers that greet the seniors as they enter the Center.  Advises MG Krauss: “Our MG Coordinator, Madeline DiNardo, and Executive Director Jonathan Phillips, of Groundwork Elizabeth, personally worked very hard to help install the raised beds.”  Groundwork Elizabeth administers the Come Grow With Us! program.

Inside the Center, MG volunteers water, trim and encourage growth among the many different varieties of plants that adorn the windows of the large solarium.  MGs manage the watering schedule, recruiting seniors to participate.  They also maintain a new, 50-gallon terrarium, cleverly transformed from a fish tank by MG Barbara Spellmeyer of Union County College. The terrarium houses a collection of mostly tropical plants.  “It is a beautiful work of art inspired by Mother Nature herself,” says Krauss.

UC Master Gardener volunteers have been involved at the Senior Center since 2011, working there daily during the growing season and weekly during the winter months.

Advises Krauss, “It was rewarding work to beautify a space that so many members of the community use on a daily basis.  All of our garden displays look bountiful, despite the record-breaking temperatures and lack of rain in July.  Our volunteers will continue to ensure that the gardens thrive for many years to come.”

The New Providence Senior Center is located at 15 East 4th Street in New Providence.  For more information on NPSC, telephone Director Peggy Brodeur at (908) 665-0046.  The Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County (RMGUC) are part of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, 300 North Avenue East in Westfield.  Their Demonstration Gardens are located at Trailside in the Watchung Reservation (Mountainside).  Want to become a Master Gardener???  Classes start again in October 2012.  Call Judy LaGanga at (908) 654-9854 or visit www.mastergardeners-uc.org on the Web.