Local Woman Hopes to Resurrect Spitzer Center Garden

By Jen ThomasiBerkshires Staff
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Flowers once at the Spitzer Center bloomed. [Flower photos courtesy of Pearl Mullett]
NORTH ADAMS — It's been three years since visitors to the Mary Spitzer Center on Ashland Street have seen flowers blooming in the back yard that the center shares with the Housing Authority.

But Pearl Mullett, the gardener who began planting flowers and caring for them at the senior center six years ago, has plans to resurrect the once beautiful gardens that brought color and life to the beloved yard.

"People go out to the yard and sit and have picnics. It was so beautiful when the flowers were there and I can't wait to get out there and start them again," Mullett said.

The gardens were on hold beginning in 2005 while Sandy Lamb, the center's director, pursued a grant to purchase more flowerboxes and perennials for the project. Tired of waiting for the funds, which have still failed to materialize, Mullett said she's eager to "go out and play in the dirt" so that the ladies who use the yard for activities like bocce ball and horseshoes can enjoy the flora this summer.

  Pearl Mullett is pictured with the garden's former floral bounty.
"You get a bunch of older ladies out here and they have a good time," said Mullett, who also noted that special events like the annual Senior Triad Picnic are hosted behind the center.

Without a grant, though, Mullett is seeking flower donations from local residents who might want to help re-create the gardens that once lined the fences and walls outside the center. Jill Drummond, a local gardener, has offered to donate perennials from her own flowerbeds to the project and Mullett said all sorts of plants are welcome.

"You may not be able to see it from the street but it's nice out here. With the way things are now, it's hard to afford it myself," said Mullett. "If someone wants to donate something, they can come and watch it grow. It makes the garden partly theirs."

Mullett said the Housing Authority offered to rototill a portion of the yard that belongs to them so she can begin planting as soon as this weekend. Using flowers from Drummond and seeds from plants that have grown in the past, she'll restart the gardens, hoping to return them to their former glory.

"Right now, I don't have any flowers out there at all but it's going to look like the pictures again somehow," said Mullett.

Roma Morris, who often plays cards out in the yard, said she can't wait to see flowers blossoming again in her favorite hangout.

"We missed them. They were so pretty," said Morris.
The garden before ...
and now.

"You felt like you were surrounded by them," said Peggy Roberts, a frequent visitor to the center's yard.

The project began after McCann Technical School students constructed three flowerboxes for the Spitzer Center so handicapped visitors could garden. When no volunteers stepped forward, Mullett offered to take the project under her wing. For three years, she woke up every morning at 5 a.m. to tend to the gardens, planting begonias, sunflowers, lilacs and marigolds.

"It's driving me crazy not being able to come out here. Everyone says I have a green thumb but I say, 'No, I have a brown thumb.' I just love looking at the flowers. I can't wait to see them here again," Mullett said.

To donate flowers, contact Lamb at the Spitzer Center, 116 Ashland St., or at 413-662-3125.
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