Two women create gardens out of concrete
Students, others play role in vision to beautify Hampton Beach Village District
Story, photos by Judy Palm
Ocean of flowers on concrete triangle south of Hampton Beach
Have you driven over the bridge from Seabrook into New Hampshire this summer? If so, you have had the pleasure of seeing the work of two determined women in the garden across from the Ocean Wok. Linda Gebhart, who learned gardening from her mother and grandmother, and Geannina Scanlon, whose mother has owned a florist shop for 16 years, had an idea last year and have made it a reality. With a lot of work and lobbying and with the help of other volunteers they are creating green spaces and gardens all over Hampton Beach Village District. I had the pleasure of walking around some of the areas these ladies have developed and saw firsthand the power of two.
Linda and Geannina tend their garden.
At last year's Hampton Beach Village District Annual Meeting Linda and Geannina asked to be recognized as a committee with the idea of beautifying concrete and cement areas. They wanted to create gardens and wildlife habitats wherever possible. They received permission and a small amount of funding, and the Hampton Beautification Committee was born.
Linda and Geannina, with the encouragement and help of their husbands, are still the
only two people actively involved in this committee, and they have worked some miracles. The island across from the Ocean Wok was dirt and cement last year. This spring bulbs emerged, and it has been in constant bloom since. Many of the plants are perennials mixed in with colorful annuals. Three or four times a week the two will go to the island to deadhead the blossoms and weed.
In order to create this garden Linda and Geannina had to get permission from the Department of Transportation and had to have a water supply. The DOT was receptive to the idea and Aquarion Water Co. donated spigots for the irrigation system they bought with some of the funds given them.
Help has come in many forms and from many different areas. The Urban Forestry Center has given advice and volunteered to help with planting trees. Also helpful in the tree planting was Chuck Connors Landscaping, which donated time and equipment. Many gardeners are giving the committee perennials that they are cleaning out of their gardens. The Hampton Harbor Motel allowed the women to use their water before they had installed their own system. The owners of the hotel, Ray and Valerie Kelley, donated a boat which has been filled with plants and located by the sign at the entrance to Hampton Beach State Park. The boat is named Kayla after their granddaughter.
The Kayla welcomes people to Hampton Beach State Park
The Clew family boat brightens the entrance to Gateway Park.
The Hampton State Park is an area for which the women have long-range plans. On the east side of the bridge they are planning on providing two Handicapped parking spots and a ramp and viewing area to the water. The green area which is expansive has seen a little planting. It’s called the Gateway Park. They also have a boat donated by the Clew family. The boat is filled with Petunias, California Poppies, Bidens, Verbana and Million Bells. It will have a plaque to commemorate Hazel and Fred Clew, owners of Clew’s Hardware, who passed away this spring, for all of their endeavors for the town of Hampton. A few other bushes and trees have been put in, but they hope to do much more, including adding many shade trees and benches for people to sit on and enjoy the area.
One major volunteer group has been the students of Winnacunnett High. They helped with planting along the Gateway Park and on the island entering Hampton Beach. They donated their time and energy and have taken great pride in being able to see the results of their labor. One of their major projects was saving a Maple tree in the Park. The Urban Forestry Center advised Linda and Geannina that the tree needed nourishment. The students dug many deep holes around the tree and its roots. They were filled with good rich soil. Later more holes were dug and more soil placed there. The tree is doing just fine, and the students are justifiably proud of the work they did to save it, as are their grandmothers, who drive by and point out the tree their grandchildren saved,
Milkweed for Butterfly habitat. Can you find the butterfly?
Concern for wildlife habitats is important to Linda and Geannina. They want to create gardens which will support the wildlife of the area. In Gateway Park they are creating a butterfly habitat. Milkweed is vital for the monarch butterfly. They breed and find their nourishment in Milkweed. One area in the park is being given over to Milkweed, and they plant butterfly bushes in most gardens.
Geannina has been working with the DOT to create a wildflower garden in the island on Route 101 just before the water tower coming into the beach. With a lot of help from volunteers again she has planted wildflower seeds where there used to be concrete. On June 23rd The Urban Forestry Center provided a water truck and Aquarion met the truck and filled it with water from a hydrant. The wildflowers were planted. The area has no blossoms this year but next spring is expected to be a beautiful greeting to anyone coming into Hampton on that road.
Other examples of the work of these two dedicated gardeners are the urns across from the Ashworth Hotel, the plants by the Seashell and a small viewing area on Harbor Road which has two planters and a bench so the public can sit and enjoy the view.
Bench donated by Ray Kelley, owner of Hampton Harbor Motel
Harbor Road viewing area
The Hampton Beautification Committee has a vision for beautifying the area and the willingness to do the work necessary to accomplish this vision. They would like to instill into the residents of the neighborhoods enhanced by these gardens a pride of ownership and the patience to create a more beautiful community for those who live here and for those who visit. They have given educational programs on different types of gardens and on caring for the wildlife in the area at the Hampton Village District meeting room at the Fire Station.
If anyone wishes to donate time or flowers from your garden, Linda and Geannina would be grateful. You may contact them by calling: Linda 603/929-3850, Geannina: 603/926-0015
Flower bed in Gateway Park
Stay tuned for beautiful wildflowers next year
Garden from roof of Hampton Harbor Motel
Flowers sparkle at Gateway Park
Copyright © Rye Reflections 2007. All rights reserved.