Cultivating beauty

Jeanette Hauver tends to one of more than a dozen gardens she cares for in Park Cemetery in Marquette. Hauver has been volunteering as a coordinator for the gardens for 22 years. (Photo by Amy Gawry)

Jeanette Hauver tends to one of more than a dozen gardens she cares for in Park Cemetery in Marquette. Hauver has been volunteering as a coordinator for the gardens for 22 years. (Photo by Amy Gawry)

by Amy Gawry

When Jeannette Hauver of Marquette started a small rose garden in Park Cemetery in 1995, she never expected that 22 years later, she and her volunteer crew would be taking care of 13 gardens on the cemetery grounds, or that it would have such an impact on the image and purpose of the cemetery.

It started when she took the Master Gardener program through the Michigan State Extension Office that spring.  After completing the coursework, participants are required to put in 40 hours of volunteer garden work in the first year to earn their certificate.

“Those of us in the class were so excited and so eager to get out to do something, and no one quite knew where to go, and I had been thinking for a number of years about having a public rose garden in Marquette,” Hauver said.

Hauver remembers enjoying public rose gardens growing up in central New York State, but there was nothing like that in Marquette. Hauver thought there should be a place where anybody could go and

enjoy the flowers up close. In order to complete her certification hours and make the rose garden happen, she decided to take on the project, with help from six others in the Master Gardener program.

After calling the city arborist Paul Albert about the idea, she was directed to the Park Cemetery sexton at the time, Bill Malandrone. He said yes, and directed Hauver and her helpers to a spot he thought would work well for the garden.

“It was just lawn,” Hauver said.

Soon it was much more than just an empty area of grass, though. Hauver and her crew turned the area into a beautiful garden, starting with roses that she brought from her own garden at home and from some of her relatives.

After getting the rose garden established, the other gardeners moved on to their own projects. Hauver’s work at the cemetery, however, was just beginning.

“Bill Malandrone definitely wanted more to happen in the cemetery,” Hauver said.

His pick for the next cemetery garden was the site where the Memorial Day service takes place every year.

“He had just put in rocks,” Hauver said. “And he said, ‘Could you do something there?’”

Hauver said yes, and made plans to put in some perennials.

“That area turned out to be 30 by 60 feet. It was a huge garden,” Hauver said. She planted tulip bulbs in red, white and blue, but those flowers didn’t last very long. “The deer were very happy.”

There is still a garden in that spot, but it’s about half the original size, and it’s filled with flowers less enticing to deer than tulips.

The next place the sexton suggested was the grotto, now called the Grotto of the Good Shepherd, and then a nearby spot called the Alpine garden. Both were shade gardens.

“There were people who wanted to particularly work on a shaded garden,” Hauver said.

A wooden sign at the entrance of Park Cemetery is pictured here, with the lily pond behind it. One of more than a dozen gardens cared for by Jeanette Hauver is located just off the main entrance to the cemetery. (Photo by Jackie Stark)

A wooden sign at the entrance of Park Cemetery is pictured here, with the lily pond behind it. One of more than a dozen gardens cared for by Jeanette Hauver is located just off the main entrance to the cemetery. (Photo by Jackie Stark)

When those interested in shade gardens got pulled away by other commitments, though, both gardens were added to Hauver’s list.

Gradually, more spots in the cemetery were also turned in to gardens of all shapes and sizes.

Circular containers formerly used on Washington Street for trees were moved to Park Cemetery when the city decided the trees couldn’t keep growing in them. They were intended for storage, but Malandrone and Hauver turned them into container gardens.

“At that point there were 12. Now there are only eight,” Hauver said of the containers.

Over the years, the gardens have changed and evolved. Hauver figured out watering patterns, took soil samples, added fertilizer and noted what plants thrived or struggled.

When a plant didn’t work in one spot, she would often transplant it to another area and fill the gap with something else. While she had supplied her own plants for the first garden, many of the new plants came from the community. They wanted to support the work she and the others were doing.

“People started donating plants and money,” Hauver said. “People would say, ‘I want to get rid of all of my old fashioned daylilies, do you want them?’ and I would say ‘Yes!’”

The group of volunteers that worked alongside Hauver has also been ever-changing.

“Over the years, I have had different people that have volunteered. Some are Master Gardeners, and some were just community citizens that liked the gardens and wanted to help out,” Hauver said.

One thing that hasn’t changed is Hauver’s passion and dedication to the gardens as primary volunteer and volunteer coordinator. Albert, who took over the sexton position in 2010, attests to how much Hauver has put in to the project.

“She is a fabulous volunteer. She really puts her heart and soul into this landscape up here,” Albert said.  “It’s really been a pleasure working with her for these years. She does a fabulous job and it’s well appreciated.”   

There are currently nine volunteers who work alongside Hauver regularly on the gardens.

“It has been wonderful to have that many,” Hauver said.

Jeanette Hauver tends to one of more than a dozen gardens she cares for in Park Cemetery in Marquette. Hauver has been volunteering as a coordinator for the gardens for 22 years. (Photo by Amy Gawry)

Jeanette Hauver tends to one of more than a dozen gardens she cares for in Park Cemetery in Marquette. Hauver has been volunteering as a coordinator for the gardens for 22 years. (Photo by Amy Gawry)

Hauver has a long list of things that she and her crew do in the gardens over the course of each year. There’s raking in the spring and fall, planting new annuals, moving perennials that aren’t thriving or splitting ones that are thriving too much, weeding, pruning, deadheading and watering sites that aren’t in the range of the cemetery sprinklers.

Hauver estimates that she puts in over 100 hours of work per season herself, spending time there 4-5 days per week, and others put in many hours as well. Albert said he sees her at work almost every day he’s in the cemetery.

Recently, Hauver and another volunteer, Patti Spengler, stripped everything out of one overgrown garden and replanted it. Another project this summer included moving some old roses to a sunnier spot, because their previous home was getting too shaded as the trees continued to grow. The group also planted over 400 new annuals this year.

Spengler has been volunteering at the gardens for a handful of years now, and comes as often as she can. She says she finds it a relaxing place to be.

“It’s a beautiful cemetery,” Spengler said.

Although the garden project looks different than she envisioned at the beginning, Hauver loves the gardens. The work has been rewarding for her, and she’s been able to give the people of Marquette a public place to stop and enjoy the flowers.

“It is so nice to see people there in it,” Hauver said.

The volunteers often get comments on the gardens also when they’re working.

“People say, ‘Wow, this is great’ and ‘How beautiful,’” Spengler said.

People’s enjoyment of the cemetery and gardens as a park also brings the place back to its roots. In the late 1800s, the newly established City of Marquette put a lot of effort into making the place beautiful, putting up decorative fences, dredging ponds and building walking bridges.

“Park Cemetery was made to be both a park and a cemetery,” Hauver said. “People have used the cemetery again as it was meant to be.”

Hauver wants to make sure that the gardens will continue for many years, whether she is involved in maintaining them or not. Now 74, Hauver is thinking of letting someone else take over the work in the near future.

“The flowers are beautiful,” said Hauver. “I don’t want them to go away.”

To get involved or donate to the garden, contact Hauver at 226-6808.

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