Friday, July 12, 2019

Local volunteers continue a 32-year tradition beautifying the Windham rotary islands: Enough funds to last only two more years

Flowers on Smith Island of the Route 302 rotary.
By Lorraine Glowczak

There are many benefits to planting flowers – and enjoying their spectacular colors and beauty is among them. Due to a few community volunteers, local residents and visiting motorists, alike, have come upon a colorful display of scenery at the round-a-bout at the intersection of Routes 302 and 202 in Windham for the past 32 years. Who are the landscaping creatives and how did it all begin?

In his June 6, 2017 article, Reporter Walter Lunt shared the following: “The rotary gardens have their roots in Windham’s 250th year celebration back in 1987. The town went all out with lectures, historical programs, open house events in old homes and churches, various entertainment venues, a parade, festival and gardens featuring red, white and blue plantings. (The color theme is retained in the current rotary gardens.) Gary Plummer, General Chair of the 1987 event, said the rotary flowers were well received by the public, so it became a spring tradition.”
But becoming a tradition almost didn’t happen. Plummer recently stated that the flowers were originally provided by June and Dick Hawkes, who once ran a greenhouse on Windham Center Road. “At the end of the 250th celebration, our committee had several thousand dollars left in our account. We gave that to the Town of Windham and in return we asked that the town pay for the flowers for us to plant every year. The town did this for several years, but then cut this money from the budget.”

When this happened, Plummer polled members of the group and they all agreed that they preferred to remain gardeners, not fundraisers. “I went to the town council and apprised them of our decision and told them that we would work with them in closing down the gardens,” Plummer said. “When I got home that evening, I found two messages on my answering machine offering to help provide for the continuing of the gardens. Those calls were from Joe Gagne of Roosevelt Trail Garden Center and George Hall of Hall Implement Company.”

And thus, the tradition was able to continue.

Naming themselves the “Rotary Club”, members depend upon donations and on contributions of flowers and mulch. Plummer credits Joe Gagne of Roosevelt Trail Nurseries and Cooper’s Greenhouse with major contributions.

Plummer explained that there originally were four different groups that planted one island each. “Over the years, as people were no longer able to plant and maintain their island, we worked together as one group,” stated Plummer. “At this point, I am the only person that has been there since the beginning.”

Roosevelt Trail Garden Center donated the flowers for many years and Hall Implement Company still donates the mulch. After Roosevelt Trail Garden center stopped growing their annual flowers, they donated many perennial flowers to keep the gardens going.

“Gaylene Cooper of Coopers Greenhouse contacted one of our members and offered to work with us to add a little more color to our gardens,” Plummer said. “For the last few years, we have purchased flowers from Coopers at a discounted price.” current source of funding is a grant that was given to the Rotary Club by Lake Pine Association when they sold their building on Route 302. “There is still enough money left to keep us going for about two more years. If the project is to continue after that, we will need to seek donations.”
Many, many people have been involved over the years. The current active members of the Rotary Garden Club are Tom Tyler, Sandy Tyler, Beth Hall, James Minott, Barb Maurais, Jennifer Harmon, Betty and, of course, Gary Plummer who has been there from the beginning.

“Over the years, we have named each island. The island on Route 202, nearest Hall Implement is called the Hall Island,” Plummer stated. “The island on Route 302, nearest Seavey’s store is the Seavey Island. The island on Route 202, nearest the Smith Cemetery, is the Smith Island. The island on Route 302, nearest Hancock Lumber, is known as the Hancock Island.”

If anyone is interested in joining The Rotary Club or making a donation, please reach out to Gary Plummer at

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