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Brooksby’s Bounty

Gardeners’ efforts at Peabody community yield stunning flowers, vegetables

Created date

September 17th, 2018
Barbara Hooper’s prize-winning flowers are a visual delight

Barbara Hooper’s prize-winning flowers are a visual delight

This year’s yield of dazzling flowers and abundant ­vegetables grown by resident gardeners at Brooksby Village was one for the history books.

“It might have been all the rain we had in April, but the gardens were spectacular this year,” says Barbara Hooper, an avid gardener who moved to the community in May 2008. Barbara began gardening almost as soon as she and her husband Bill moved to the Peabody, Mass., community, even replanting ­several perennials she brought from their home in Wilmington.

For gardeners like Barbara, Brooksby maintains 120 gardens, most measuring 10 by 10 feet. Brooksby’s gardens are located in three areas on the 90-acre campus, allowing residents to reserve one in the location nearest their apartment home.

A number of raised garden beds are located on the community’s northwest side, making it more accessible than ever for all residents to flex their green thumbs.

“The raised beds are nice because you don’t have to get down on your hands and knees to work in the garden,” says Barbara.

Annual garden fair

On August 23, the community celebrated its outdoor delights at the fifth annual Brooksby Village Garden Fair.

The Garden Fair Committee, spearheaded by Retha Clark, Anne Marchand, Arlene Fleming, and Joan Overgaard, awarded prizes for best flower garden, best vegetable garden, and best combination of flowers and vegetables.

Judges for the event were Michele Feld, co-owner of Evans Flower Shop, and two members of the JC Grounds landscaping crew, which maintains Brooksby’s common areas.

Residents also brought their flowers and vegetables to display in the McIntosh Clubhouse’s catering room, where prizes were awarded for best mixed bouquet, best single flower, best vegetables, and best container plant.

Patio gardens rounded out the final category in the fair. Residents who wished to enter their patio garden preregistered with a member of the committee, and the judges chose a winner from among those who entered.

Defending his title

Ahead of the garden fair, Dick Profio was busy nurturing his vegetable garden. Dick had a title to defend, as he took two top honors in last year’s fair, winning in the vegetable garden category and the best vegetables category.

This year, Dick and his wife Carol each maintained their own garden patch. Dick grew peppers, zucchini, summer squash, and cucumbers. Carol grew asparagus, shell beans, green beans, carrots, and cucumbers.

“In the spring, the Brooksby Village Garden Club invited those who won last year to speak at one of the club’s monthly meetings,” says Dick. “They wanted to know my secrets for growing vegetables. I use composted cow manure; I water the roots of the plant, not the plant itself; I keep my garden weeded; and I plant winter ryegrass in the fall. The ryegrass gives the soil extra nitrogen and also holds the topsoil in place during the winter.”

Just-right gardening

Before they moved to Brooksby in 2015, Dick tended a large garden at the couple’s home in Chelmsford. He enjoyed working outside, and Carol loved to cook with the fresh vegetables. Now that they’ve moved to Brooksby, Dick and Carol both agree their gardens at Brooksby are a nice, manageable size.

“We don’t have to grow as much since we can eat right here in the restaurants on campus,” says Carol.

“I don’t need the extra work of tending a really large garden,” says Dick. “This is just right. I love to run down and check on my plants.”

Lovelier than ever

Barbara Hooper was also in the running for a repeat victory. She won in the best flowers category last year.

“It’s so nice to walk through the gardens and see what people are growing,” she says. “It’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon.”

This year, Brooksby’s gardens were ablaze with color. Lilies, daisies, foxgloves, petunias, clematis, cosmos, portulaca, zinnias, hydrangeas, purple coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, phlox, and lavender were among the flowers brightening the landscape.

“I had some lilies and bee balm that looked better this year than they’ve ever looked,” says Barbara. “It was just beautiful out in the gardens.”