By Jennifer Fournier and Maggie Butler
It’s been at least ten years since any serious improvements have been made to the courtyard at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Oblate Residence in Tewksbury, MA., and the staff at IHM thought it was just about time to spruce things up!
The Oblate residents of IHM spend a good deal of time in the courtyard, (weather permitting) barbecuing, taking in the warmth of the sun and enjoying the fresh air. The flower beds and greenery had been somewhat neglected in recent years, so Business Operations Manager, Jennifer Fournier, along with Maggie Butler of the Tewksbury USP Support Office enlisted Oblates, employees and even a parishioner from St. William to make the effort a success.
Jennifer described the process: “We edged the parameter to define the space and create beds for perennials. Raised beds were installed to make vegetable gardening easier and increase yield from the space. Paving stones were used to contain mulch and make mowing and trimming easy. This required lots of lifting, shoveling of loam and mulch. Paul Cardoso, Maintenance manager, and his staff, Craig Francis, and Sean Griffin, did most of the heavy lifting.
There was crushed stone placed at the entrance to control weed growth. Planters were filled with flowers to greet guests and we placed smaller raised beds for herbs and strawberries.“
Bro. Charlie Gilbert was in heaven for we had more money to buy perennials than he is used to. He had fun working with Maggie to select and plant the wealth of color. Bro. Charlie was also key in daily watering for the plants to take hold. They are now thriving.
A cover for the pergola to help shade during BBQs, was installed by maintenance staff.
The spaces have been defined with perennial beds, 3 raised beds for vegetables, and some places for herbs. Residents have been contributing bird baths, statues have migrated from storage to the beds alone with a hiding gnome.
The plants that have been transplanted from other parts of the property are also thriving. I just saw a beautiful holly hoc flower this morning in it grandest state.
Fr John Hanley (Superior) worked with St Williams and a parishioner donated some new patio furniture. It is shaping up. We didn’t have time to reseed but that can happen in the fall.
We have a BBQ every Thursday in the summer. The men from the surrounding area come to enjoy each other’s company and an adult beverage.
The New patio furniture was placed before the first BBQ of the season. 23 guests from the house and the surrounding area participated with great zeal.”