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Garden Club Spruces Up Borough Planters

The Town and Country Garden Club beautifies downtown with new flowers.

In less than two hours, members of the Town and Country Garden Club of the Chathams did their magic, transforming downtown Chatham Borough into a fall foliage wonderland.

"We want to make downtown the beautiful place we all want it to be," Mayor Nelson Vaughan said. "No one has a greater motivation to do this than the members of the garden club."

Vaughan said he contacted President Mary Keselica about putting the plants into the planters and "she did not hesitate."

The Town and Country Garden Club was founded in the early '50s and has been decorating the Chathams for decades. "My mother, Sally Vaughan, was one of the founders and was the second president," said Vaughan, who commented that some of the planters used back in the '50s are still around today.

"It's been 60 years and the club is still going strong," said Keselica, who added that the club is currently looking for new members and guests are welcome to come to the group's meetings, held on the second Wednesday of the month at the Red Brick Schoolhouse.

Teams of members attacked the job with vigor, pulling out summer plants like potato vine and putting in fresh, colorful mums. Altogether, the club repotted nine planters and two concrete urns (in front of Borough Hall).

"It's a lot of fun and a nice outreach effort," said Julia Fiumara, who has been a member since 2001 and is the owner of Simply A Garden, based in Chatham.

Fiumara said mums can be put planted all the way up to Thanksgiving. "They'll come back next year if you snip them in the early spring.

The black planters downtown were new this year and town merchants helped plants survive the hot summer by watering the plants. "I watered the plants all summer," said Phil Ott, owner of Ott Okinawan Karate, located on Main Street.

Keselica said the club is hoping to do something for the winter with evergreens and will definitely redo the planters in the spring. "It's fun to plant but it's nice to have the merchants take care of the plants," she commented.

The Town and Country Garden Club of the Chathams has a topic for each of its meetings. This week's topic was shade gardening and next month a speaker from the Raptor Trust will talk about injured birds and what the Trust is all about.

"We are interested in saving the environment as well as gardening," Keselica said. She encourages anyone interested in attending a meeting or learning more about the club to contact her at 973-635-7379 or mkeselica@hotmail.com.

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