Master Gardener Interns Gain Experience in Hitchcock Gardens

By Bridget Litchfield

Master Gardener (MG) and Hitchcock Center Volunteer, Bridgit Litchfield, led a group of 10 interns training to become MGs. Along with 2 other certified MGs, the group spent the spring caring for the Butterfly, Caterpillar, and Horace Reed Memorial Gardens. The gardens were created seventeen years ago and continue to delight visitors of all ages, forming important play and inquiry spaces.

Linda Smith and Kathi Bangert distribute mulch in the gardens.

Linda Smith and Kathi Bangert distribute mulch in the gardens.

A child on a school field trip to the Center this spring inquired about the name of an eight-foot tall flowering shrub in the Caterpillar Garden, swirling it’s long, curving branches covered with delicate lavender blossoms – Buddleia alternifolia or Fountain Butterfly Bush. Many people are intrigued with the shrub because it looks more like a fairy octopus than its cousin, the Butterfly Bush. Youngsters also love the bright blooms of buttercups, Dame’s Rocket and Ragged Robin, so we leave them among the native goldenrods and Joe Pye Weed in the Caterpillar Garden.  Since running games take place through these garden paths, hurtful, invasive multiflora rose and other briars have been removed. Recently, Hitchcock educators helped a group of preschoolers release baby praying mantises among the flowers.

Ed Geaughan and Bridgit Litchfield move mulch.

Ed Geaughan and Bridgit Litchfield move mulch.

The original caterpillar garden was in the shape of a caterpillar, but is now broken up by paths so it can be maintained more easily. The upper Butterfly Garden is in the shape of a butterfly, with stone paths for the body that divide the upper and lower parts of the butterfly’s wings. Many of the plants in the Butterfly Garden are native and of either larval or nectar value to butterflies. Both gardens were designed in 1998 by Clivia Pasek, MG ’95. She and Anne Cann, MG ’95, worked together to install both gardens. The Horace Reed Memorial Garden bears some especially beautiful specimens including dogwood, azalea, peony and Solomon’s Seal.

For many years, Dotty Friel was the MG who managed the gardens. In the two previous years, crews were led by Judy Gatland, MG. This spring, Bridgit’s first as supervisor, was blessed with an enthusiastic, hard-working group: the ten interns are already skilled gardeners, looking to become certified MGs.

Mary Caris prunes plants in the gardens.

Mary Caris prunes plants in the gardens.

The Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association (WMMGA) is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to the educational mission of promoting good and sustainable gardening practices. Volunteers graduate from an academic training class and complete service hours working with the public to complete their certification as Master Gardners.

The Hitchcock Center is grateful to WMMGA for contributing grant money to purchase mulch and replacement plants for some empty spots in the Butterfly Garden: Blanket Flower, Yarrow, Sea Holly and Coreopsis were replanted in the forewings, symmetrically of course.

The ten Interns working in the gardens were:

Kathi Bangert (Pelham),
Mary Caris (South Hadley)
William Dierkin (Longmeadow)
Ed Geaughan (South Hadley)
Judy Harvester (Westfield)
Jan Higgins (Hadley)
Helen Hurteau (Granby)
Gail Matthews (Whately)
Susan Rutherford (Ware)
Linda Smith (Greenfield)

They will graduate from the 2015 WMMGA training program at the end of the year.

Gail Matthews weeding in the Horace Reed Memorial Garden

Gail Matthews weeding in the Horace Reed Memorial Garden

The two other MGs were:

Judy Gatland (Sunderland)
Maripat Robison (Amherst)

All thirteen contributed a grand total of 67 hours of loving labor over four Wednesdays from the end of April to the beginning of June, receiving countless kudos from Hitchcock staff. Bridgit Litchfield shared that the WMMGA appreciates the opportunity to earn community service hours in the Hitchcock Center Gardens, “I hope this joyful partnership between our two nature-loving organizations continues.”

The Hitchcock Center couldn’t agree more, and thanks all the volunteers for their hard work to keep these beautiful spaces thriving for the enjoyment of both wildlife and program participants.

2 responses to “Master Gardener Interns Gain Experience in Hitchcock Gardens”

  1. sherry wilson says:

    Great to see the article about the MG interns. I know they loved working at the Hitchcock Center. Many thanks to Bridgit for taking over supervision and inspiring them. I am mentor to Jan and Susan and know they really enjoyed their volunteer stints.

  2. Kerry Lake says:

    Kudos to our Master Gardeners and Interns !! So proud of the hard work you have done to keep this beautiful site going strong !!

Click here to return to full list of blog entries. Or chose a specific Blog category below.

Blog categories

Recent posts

Blog categories


Translate »
Hitchcock Center for the Environment