photos by Rachel Reiff
“As all the earth is a garden, Lord, we ask that you bless this historic and beloved Rome City Clock Tower Garden,” prays Reverend Jim Bradshaw on the morning of Wednesday, April 10, as he and the congregation of garden enthusiasts stand before the recently completed Clock Tower Garden.
The garden, which first began over two years ago, is a community labor of love between the Rome Federated Garden Clubs, led by Seven Hills Garden Club.
One of the Master Gardeners and members of Seven Hills Garden Club, Nelly Luthi, jokes that it was no easy task getting the garden completed: “I think it is fair to say that we spent as many hours weeding…as we did planting!” She also explains that they worked with a budget of only $1 per member, per year, which is around $500 for the entire project.
Yet members from all 10 federated garden clubs willingly spent countless hours working in the garden, even hauling jugs of water to the location until Joe Smith, City Clerk, helped get a new irrigation system installed. Other members of the community also participated in the creation of the garden, including Berry College students and the Berry College Admissions Department.
Jennifer Kearns, President of Seven Hills Garden Club, is proud and grateful for all the people who worked together to make the garden a reality. “This was a project that so many people with different talents were involved with…some wrote applications, some dug in the dirt, some weeded, some fertilized and planted,” she says. “It was a community effort. There’s strength in community.”
Because the Clock Tower itself is a symbol of Rome, Mary Hardin Thornton, who first suggested the project, knows the importance of a garden at this spot: “This site is visited by young families, downtown workers seeking a quiet spot for lunch, history buffs, prom-goers…So the appeal of this place is magnetic. And we are all thankful to the garden clubs for this tremendous effort.”
The Clock Tower Garden is not only a beautiful spot, but it is also specially designed to be a pollinator garden, earning a place as part of the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail.
As Sheelah Schreiber, member of Seven Hills Garden Club, explains: “Our committee chose plants that would provide nectar sources and host plants for our pollinators.” Host plants in the garden include: Milkweed, sunflowers, asters, parsely, witch hazel and more. And nectar plants include: zinnias, asters, coneflowers, butterfly bush, verbena, ironweed and more.
“The current butterfly trail encompases Canada, Japan and the United States,” shares Schreiber. “It includes schools, private homes and public locations like our Clock Tower Garden.”