A New Garden for St. John’s In memory of Irene Gubrud Finch
When Irene passed away suddenly last fall, her husband Steven, Music Director Emeritus, suggested that a fitting memorial would be a garden. Because of their love of nature and devotion to St. John’s, and because Irene taught meditation at the church, he proposed to help fund a meditation garden. Through their years together they had visited gardens around the country, discovering the renewal they offered. When consulting with Gideon, Mary Beth, several parishioners and environmental landscape architects, they found the area adjacent to the pond, continuing up the hill from the bluestone patio, to be a beautiful setting for a sanctuary, a place to find peace and comfort. It transitions into the Nature Conservancy property and will also serve to help mitigate rainwater runoff that is eroding the pond bank.
This type of garden is beautifully consistent with Christian Spiritual practice, as time in nature has long been spiritually revealing in the Christian tradition. Additionally, this meditation garden will beautifully complement our Grow to Give Garden directly across the pond, which has been a source of physical nourishment for the food insecure for many years.
In our conversations with designers and a committee from the church, three principle and necessary features emerged: that much of it be handicap accessible, that it have a small pavilion overlooking the pond, and that there be moving water. Beyond these, the St. John’s team, in conjunction with landscape ecologist Rusty Schmidt of Nelson, Pope, Voorhis, have developed a garden plan that begins with a formal entrance (with arbor), follows a path to a small pavilion overlooking the pond, then winds up the hill, becoming less formal until it transitions into the undeveloped woods. Current invasive species will be removed and be replaced with appropriate plants. In conjunction with the church’s blue-green theology initiative, native plantings will be incorporated, as well as consideration for wildlife habitats. For small group use, a grassy gathering circle will be located near the entrance to the garden
We hope that the garden will be completed by next spring, but we expect to dedicate and bless the space on Sunday, November 7, 2021, following the 10:00 service – the same day we will remember the one-year anniversary of Irene’s death. When complete, St. John’s will have a garden of beauty; a garden that is quiet, intimate, and serene; an outdoor sanctuary for the soul.
The garden project is being funded from donations made in Irene’s memory and noted for this purpose. Any parishioners who wish to donate for this project are invited to do so by sending contributions directly to St. John’s. Donations are being matched by a generous benefactor to meet the garden’s projected budget.
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