Another day in the park

MARQUETTE – The gardening season’s pretty much over for the year, but there are a few vestiges of color in Park Cemetery, many of them because of the hard work of Jeannette Hauver.

It’s work that hasn’t gone unappreciated. Recently, Hauver received special recognition for her volunteer garden service of creating and maintaining 13 flowers gardens in the cemetery. That also equates to over 1,700 hours of volunteer community garden service.

Hauver, 74, of Marquette, was one of 350 Master Gardeners recognized by the Michigan Master Gardener Program for their service in improving communities and the lives of individuals through gardening. Hauver has been a Michigan State University Extension Advanced Master Gardener since 1995.

Each recipient was awarded a gold Master Gardener name badge signifying they’ve contributed 1,000 or more volunteer hours.

For Hauver, who has been working at Park Cemetery for 22 years, the effort began with a literal “stop-and-smell-the-roses” moment.

“The reason I started it, I wanted people to be able to get close to the flowers,” Hauver said.

The Marquette Beautification & Restoration Committee, Inc., maintains flowers along Front Street, but people can’t get next to them and smell them, she said.

Hauver began with a rose garden by the cemetery’s lily pond. Over time, she added more and more gardens, and it just blossomed from there.

For example, chrysanthemums are among the last remaining flowers in bloom for the 2016 season, growing alongside lavender in a grotto-like section of the cemetery. Those mums surprisingly have a sweet aroma, she said.

This weekend, though, that section was to be cut down and the gardens raked.

“The city does a lot to help us, but they can’t take of the flowers,” said Hauver, who receives help from other volunteers. “They give us the water, they give us mulch, and actually the city has bought the flowering shrubs that are in the different gardens.”

Hauver is a retired nurse, so she has time to devote to the Park Cemetery gardens.

That’s a good thing for the community.

“People can come up and they can smell the flowers,” Hauver said. “They take pictures of the hummingbirds and the butterflies that come to the gardens. It’s just so neat to watch them.”

People also visit Park Cemetery to take their senior class and wedding photographs, especially when the flowers are in full bloom, she said.

Hauver noted that in the 1880s when the cemetery was created, the city wanted the site to serve as a park and a cemetery.

That’s pretty much continued, she said.

According to MSU Extension, Hauver also has involved elementary students by inviting them to the gardens, teaching them about plants and insects at the site, and having them help with plantings. She also holds weekly garden maintenance meetings when she and other Master Gardeners and trainees help anyone interested in caring for the cemetery garden plants.

Rebecca Krans, consumer horticulture educator with MSU Extension as well as its Upper Peninsula Extension Master Gardener Program coordinator, had good things to say about Hauver.

“Jeannette’s continued dedication within Park Cemetery is truly an asset to the visitors and community,” Krans said. “Her volunteer work provides a snapshot of how the statewide Extension Master Gardener Program is positively impacting Michigan.”

The Master Gardener Program is open to anyone interested in learning more about gardening and is passionate about volunteering and sharing gardening knowledge within their communities.

Participants in the program first must complete a 14-week educational course followed by 40 hours of gardening education service in a community setting.

For more information, visit msue.anr.msu.edu/program/info/master_gardener_volunteer_program.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.