Around Town

Want to get your hands dirty for a good cause?

WESTFIELD-For many longtime area residents, Chauncey Allen Park has been the setting for memorable moments. 

This spring, a group of volunteers continues to work diligently on the park’s clean-up efforts and cutting down the overgrowth around the lily pond, according to Richard Holcomb, a member of the board of directors of Friends of Grandmothers’ Garden. The 11-acre park is also known for its signature formal flower garden – Grandmothers’ Garden.

“With the arrival of the spring season, Grandmothers’ Garden is once more coming to life,” said Holcomb. “Volunteers have been working hard to get the planting beds in shape after the interesting winter and inconsistent spring.”

Richard Holcomb, a member of the board of directors of Grandmothers’ Garden in Westfield, stands next to the new lattice panels on the Herb Garden Arbor that he constructed and installed. (DON WIELGUS  PHOTO)

Holcomb noted the restoration of the lily pond bridge is complete after a “spate of vandalism” last fall.

“The overgrowth removal allows for more neighborhood supervision of activities in and around the garden,” said Holcomb.

Holcomb also credits the staff of the Westfield Park and Recreation Department who assist in keeping the municipally owned park “in tip-top shape.”

In addition to the clean-up work underway, Holcomb also constructed and installed new lattice panels on the Herb Garden Arbor.

For anyone who has ever visited the park on Smith Avenue, opposite the Westfield Technical Academy’s main entrance, most agree it is a “best-kept secret of Westfield,” said Holcomb, noting the park is open daily from dawn to dusk.

The lily pond bridge at Grandmothers’ Garden in Westfield has been restored after it was vandalized last fall. (DON WIELGUS PHOTO)

“It is an oasis of tranquility that is maintained through volunteer efforts,” said Holcomb, adding that more volunteers are always welcomed to make the load a bit lighter for everyone.

“All are encouraged to volunteer,” said Holcomb. “We can always use an extra trowel wielder or weed remover, if you are so inclined.”

Pat Steele-Perkins, a longtime volunteer at the park who also serves as the garden volunteer coordinator, echoed those sentiments.

“We can use maybe a dozen volunteers,” said Steele-Perkins, noting volunteers meet from 9 a.m. – noon on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

“We also have an Adopt-A-Bed system, whereby individuals can look after one or more beds, in their own time,” she said, adding, “there is no expense involved, just mostly weeding and deadheading.”

With many local residents having a bit more time open on their schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lending a helping hand could make a real difference this year at the park. Volunteers are needed for weeding, transplanting, pruning, and deadheading.

“Digging in the dirt in these pleasant surroundings is truly a therapeutic activity,” said Holcomb.

Patterned after a formal Victorian garden, Grandmothers’ Garden was created in 1929 and has stood the test of time, however, the Friends group relies exclusively on public donations to fund activities and operations. 

“The garden contains many heirloom plants and indigenous shrubbery,” said Holcomb, adding, “it allows one to travel back in time to a simpler time, and offers a break from the everyday hectic and frantic routine.”

For more information on volunteer opportunities, visit and click on either “volunteer” or “contact us.” 

Donations are also graciously accepted and more information about ways to donate can be found on the website. 

A “Perennial Pathway” also features personalized pavers that can be purchased for special occasions including birthdays, engagements, weddings and holidays.

“At the very least we encourage all to stop by for a visit,” said Holcomb, noting every day can hold a different rewarding vista as well as a few moments of peace and serenity “provided by Mother Nature, with a little help from her friends.”

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