Wilmington Garden Club learns fascinating history and more about Sugar Grove Cemetery


WILMINGTON — Sugar Grove Cemetery Technician Kirby Keltner was the speaker at the Oct. 11 meeting of the Wilmington Garden Club at the First Christian Church.

Those at the meeting agreed: Who would have thought Sugar Grove was so interesting!

In 1857 a small group of residents bought 23 acres on the west side of Wilmington to create a central resting space, as opposed to the numerous small, neglected burial sites scattered throughout Clinton County. Leo Weltz — a Prussian-born landscape gardener with an “encyclopedia knowledge of horticulture” — was hired.

Within a year Mr. Weltz had created a “butterfly” design of roads — an outer rim surrounding the curved sections of the cemetery.

Kirby Keltner named the sections of the cemetery, within which there are subsections: baby, charity, veterans, transients (potter’s field), and immigrants — several being those of Irish birth with surnames and Celtic symbols. There is a separate pet cemetery; law states that animal remains may not be buried with humans.

Kirby stated some of his department goals are widening existing roads; parking spaces for those wishing to walk in the cemetery; the purchase of an additional 11 acres; movement of the office from the City Building to a new building on the cemetery grounds; and hiring additional staff. Currently it takes 80 man-hours to trim, and 40 man-hours to mow, plus there is the constant repair of tombstones. A proposed tax levy is on the November ballot.

Garden Club Secretary Nan Kennelly and Treasurer Ann Carr presented reports which were approved as read. President Ann Kuehn asked for Committee Reports.

Susan Hunt’s Point Park Committee is getting the park winterized, with a planned date of Oct. 30. Susan also brought examples of the painted cardinals which will be used to decorate the Wilmington Garden Club tree at Deer Creek.

Vice President Linda Compton handed out the information for the Christmas Flower Show and Brunch, which will be held Dec. 13 at Snow Hill Country Club. Reservations and payment must be in by Nov. 30.

As a reminder, members were told to bring $15 to the November meeting if they wish to assemble a Holiday Arrangement with the program presenter, Timothy Larrick from McCarty’s Greenhouse.

Judy Grosvernor made the flower arrangement for the meeting.

The club would like to offer membership to any interested parties. One does not need to be a Master Gardener, or even differentiate between a daisy and a dandelion. It does take an interest in the wonderful natural world in which we live.