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Gardening in the Park at the Common Ground is a Labor of Love

Volunteers gather to keep the area flourishing and in bloom.

In order for the gardens in The Common Ground at Rotary Park to maintain their vibrant natural beauty, many helpful hands are needed to tenderly render their time and loving care.  Gardening and classes take place there on the first and third Saturdays of every month from 9 a.m. to noon, from April through November.  Each session revolves around a topic pertinent to the time of season; beginning with "Spring pruning" and ending with "Adding Interest to the winter garden."

On Sept. 4 the focus was on "Seed collecting and saving," with the added bonus of taking home seeds. The volunteers also paid extra attention to sprucing up the garden for the annual Moonlight Memorial Service on Saturday, September 11. All are invited.  The gathering and candlelight participation begins at 7:30 p.m.

Nancy Angermaier, known as "The Purple Lady," runs the gardening group with her green thumb. "I live in a purple house, and I wear purple clothes," said  Angermaier, explaining her affinity for the regal hue. "I'm a Leo, so I'm royalty."  Angermaier is a Sayville resident and sign language interpreter.  She said, "After 9/11, a group of people came together to put together a park.  I responded to the design plan and joined The Common Ground."  She designed and planted the park herself.  "I donated 90 percent of the plant material; the other 10 percent was donated from local nurseries," she said.

Anyone with an interest can just show up on any Saturday, without any special skills or training. There are jobs to do for anyone with a willing spirit. Angermaier assured, "Even if you don't like to garden, we've got a job for you ...  Most people like to garden, some wanted to learn more.  It's just evolved — we really enjoy the social aspect of it too."

Suzanne Robilotta, past president of the Sayville Village Improvement Society said, "It's so much more than gardening.  There are pretty much things going on here all year round.  We're looking for decorating companies for Christmas, and we're always looking for volunteers in all facets."  The Common Ground Board meets the second Monday of the month at the Gillette House at 7 p.m.  Anyone interested is welcome to attend.

Angermaier serves as a gardening mentor, and has her own beautiful garden at her purple house on Lakeland Avenue, complete with purple grasses. "We wanted to make sure everything looked as good as possible [for the memorial service.]  We've done a great job keeping up all season, so there really wasn't much to do," she said.

The gardening expert was also collecting seeds to plant for next year, and doing what is known as deadheading, which is taking off dead blooms.  "Every annual flower is programmed to go from seed to seed in one year — it's genetic programming. It just wants to grow, put out flowers and make seeds. We trick it by taking away the flowers that bloomed; it encourages the plant to continue blooming, so it becomes much more floriferous," said Angermaier.

Mike Mazza, an accountant, and horticulture student at SUNY Farmingdale has learned a lot from volunteering in the park.  "I just like being outdoors," he said. "It's time for a change ... I enjoy doing it. Nancy is a good resource – if I have questions with something in school she's an excellent person to bounce things off."

Angermaier tried to convey the simple pleasures of gardening.  She said, "It's the peacefulness, the connection to the earth, nurturing the soil and working with Mother Nature; making plants grow and be healthy.  It's almost like having children:  You give birth, raise seeds, watch plants grow and they make you happy."

For more information, click here.  Anyone interested in adding  music or sentiments during the September 11 Moonlight Memorial Service, write to contactus@thecommonground.com.

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