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Gardening Angels

A Pleasant Pastime Becomes a Project
    Lovely flowers and landscaping catch your eye when you come to St.John Neumann.  The most beautiful gardens exist on the eastern section of the property, at the rectory.  Father Walter Lewis's love for flowers has grown from a  pleasant pastime with some daylillies and a birch tree to a vast expanse of flowers, shrubs and herbs most of us cannot identify.
    Father's first and favorite plants were blueberry bushes that provided him two quarts a day at his first pastoral assignment in Bristol, Virginia.  Then he bought a home and chose to avoid cutting grass by having two tons of rocks in the yard and just a few flower beds.  Father does admit that is more work than mowing but he loves flowers and kept adding more.
     Father's excitement rose when SJN decided to build a recotry:  now there was a clean new start....he thought before engaging in Powhatan''s infamous red clay and quarry sediment! 

     But why?  Why should we have a garden?
     First, Father's garden was for pleasure.  Initially, it was small but proved great relaxation and a pleasant setting for entertaining.  Then Claudia from Dirty Hands designed more beds.   Father's enthusiasm for the garden skyrocketed when a new parishioner, Sveta Weimer entered the picture taking cactus from the woods, developing new plants, and placing gravel on beds instead of conventional mulch.  
     Soon parishioners were volunteering in Gardening Angels and were offering to share and exchange plants and Father's garden had new daylillies, iris and field ageratum.  Father's love for unique plants, native varieties  and special trees continued to grow (no pun intended) and, just as his first 10 foot river birch is now 75 feet tall, a willow tree recently caught his eye and has begun to grow in Powhatan.  
      Today the garden has expanded beyond a little get-a-way:  there are dreams and hopes for the future here.  Father's dreams will work towards these 7 projects:

STONE SOUP-an herb and vegetalbe garden focusing on soup suppers for the needy;
GO GREEN-projects for children;
FROM GARDEN TO TABLE-specific gourmet lettuces, muchrooms and herbs available for sale;
FLOWERS FROM THE HEART-crafts such as sachets that are currently being made from our flowers and delivered to homebound parishioners;
PLANT AND SEED EXCHANGE-parishioners expand their own gardens and learn propagation methods with fellow gardeners;
DEMONSTRATION GARDEN-options for the community to consider for their own yards, opportunities for experimenting with new varieties etc.;
GARDENING ANGELS-volunteers who maintain the church garden areas and Columbarium.

     Father Lewis's hobby has developed into a lovely landscape that has involved and helped many and intends to broaden its scope to a socially responsible site for both feeding body and soul.  We at St. John Neumann hope you will consider enjoying the beauty of the garden and considering joining us in any of these projects.