ArtReach students from Abby Kelley Foster Charter School helped plant four trees at the Greendale Eagle War Memorial.

By Derek Lirange

On a recent Tuesday Tower Hill’s Worcester Tree Initiative program had the opportunity to plant with students of the ArtReach after school program at the park across the street from their classroom on the corner of West Boylston Street and Barber Ave.

The small park is home to the Greendale Eagle, a black granite statue and War Memorial on West Boylston Street. The park sits opposite ArtReach, Frtiz’s Bicycle Shop, and the other stores between Barber Ave and Andover Street. Though small and unassuming the park has roots in the neighborhood. Along its length run train tracks and at the far back point is a small building which once was the start of a tunnel running under the tracks to the Norton Factory, now Saint Gobain. Workers once trekked through the park on a daily basis, going from their homes in the Greendale Neighborhood to their jobs at the factory, and back. The tunnel is now closed and those who walk to work, while admirable, are few, but the park is now used nearly every day in the warmer months by students of the ArtReach program across the street.

This after school program teaches students art skills in a variety of mediums including drawing, painting, sculpting, mosaics, graphic design, and 3D printing. Some of the inspiration for the students art comes from their time in the park, interacting with trees and flowers of different shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. And when we took to planting with them this fall we taught them about a new medium for their creativity, horticulture and landscape design.

Through a grant provided by the Nathaniel Wheeler Trust we were able to plant 46 trees, shrubs, and perennial flowers throughout the landscape. The students helped with the planting of the flowers and four of the trees. We planted several varieties of Moss Phlox which flower in different colors in the spring which will create a beautiful tapestry as the plants fill in as a ground cover. We also planted black eyed susans to provide color in a different season as well as a different layer of height. And finally we planted Green Giant arborvitae, which were mixed in with some other evergreens which had been planted several years ago. These will provide a great visual throughout the winter and help to soften the view of the factory beyond with natural elements.

We were excited to be able to show these young creative minds a new way to express their creativity. We hope that some of these young minds will start exploring gardening around their own homes!

Derek Lirange is a community forester for Tower Hill Botanic Garden’s Worcester Tree Initiative.