The Dorchester Garden Club’s Heron Garden

submitted to dorchester banner/ellen higgins The Heron Garden as it appears today.

submitted to dorchester banner/ellen higgins
The Heron Garden as it appears today.

CAMBRIDGE — The Dorchester Garden Club, which will celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2020, has a long history of service and community involvement to the Dorchester County community. This is the second in a series of articles to highlight the 5 civic improvement gardens that the club’s members are actively engaged in to help protect and restore the quality of the county’s environment.

Nestled along the beautiful Long Wharf is the Heron Garden, featuring the bronze sculpture “Patient Fisher,” the work of artist and sculptor John Neal Millican of Frederick, commissioned by the Dorchester Arts Center now known as the Dorchester Center for the Arts.

The majestic and graceful great blue heron lives year-round on marshes and wetlands throughout the Chesapeake Bay Region and Dorchester County is an important habitat and breeding environment for the heron. According to North American Native tradition, the Blue Heron brings messages of self-determination and self-reliance and is much loved and admired throughout Dorchester.

When installed in its current location, the sculpture was placed on a wooden pedestal base. The initial surrounding garden design has been attributed to the late Dorchester Garden Club member, Joanna Tilghman. Several years back Dee Terry, then chair of the Dorchester Garden Club’s Civic Improvement committee, along with committee members Gloria Warner and Cookie Brohawn noticed that the pedestal was rotting and listing to one side, about to topple at any time.

These club members contacted Melanie Merryweather, who was instrumental in the concept and inception of the Patient Fisher sculpture, with some questions about the origin of that bronze heron and its wooden base. The base was built by the late Jim Richardson, a prominent boatbuilder and father of Dorchester Garden Club member, Jane Brighton.

The Dorchester Garden Club contacted John Millican to ask if he might meet with them. John and his wife were traveling to the shore for vacation and club members were able to meet and assess the Heron Garden situation.

Plans were put in place to remove the bronze heron sculpture and place it into storage while the late Mark Palamaras was hired to build a cement replica of the original pillar base and Millican made several trips to Dorchester to clean and wax the sculpture to bring it back to its original glory. City employees Jason Segar and Odie Wheeler were instrumental in securing a backhoe, removal, storage and reinstallation of that beautiful heron sculpture.

In the spring of 2017 the City of Cambridge, working with the Dorchester Garden Club, removed the two entry juniper hedges that were blocking the vision of motorists at the Heron Garden and access to a water main. Recently the City of Cambridge has added two public benches to this garden, providing a space for the enjoyment of local citizens and visitors.

Ten members of the Dorchester Garden Club and seven spouses tend to this garden as needed — raking, pruning, weeding, digging, trimming and the club also acknowledges Phil Tindall of Lawn Irrigation Systems INC of Trappe, for reconnecting the irrigation system to keep the garden thriving.

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