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A Legacy of Community Care


June 03, 2021

A Tale of Two Gardens

For several decades, Rusticus Garden Club (RGC) members have worked to make the club’s presence felt in Bedford, NY, recognizing the role that gardens and horticulture can play in shaping civic improvement and beautifying public spaces within a community. Projects of note are the ongoing care and beautification of two local gardens, the library garden in front of the Bedford Village Free Library and the Terrace Garden at the John Jay Homestead.

For nearly fifty years, the RGC Civic Gardens committee members and RGC provisional members have cared for the garden in front of the Bedford Village Library. Each spring, club members remove debris and add new native plants where needed. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, maintenance includes weeding and watering, eliminating invasive plants, checking plant health, and remediating issues if pathology dictates. In late fall, the gardens are made ready for winter, cleaning out any diseased foliage and preparing the gardens for the colder months. 

At the John Jay Homestead, RGC members perform the same duties for the Terrace Garden, but the club’s imprint goes well beyond regular maintenance to include an active role in the landscape’s development and design. In 1965, the Homestead discovered landscape plans in its archives dating to the creation of the garden by Eleanor Jay Iselin in 1924, and asked RGC to restore the Terrace Garden accordingly. This request blossomed into both an eight-year project, completed for the American Bicentennial in 1976, and a fruitful ongoing relationship. Subsequent RGC projects have included the restoration of an open meadow space as well as updates and modifications to the plant material in the Terrace Garden. In 2013, in connection with the GCA's Centennial Tree Project, RGC created an apple orchard where members used grafts to grow the same kind of apple trees that John Jay would have grown himself. As with the Library garden, the Civic Gardens Committee stays abreast of local phenology, educational newsletters, and scouting reports that detail pest and disease activity to ensure all of Bedford can enjoy these spaces for years to come.


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