Marianne Foley, Scholarship Chairperson for the Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island, was in discussions with Chris Zumstein, guidance counselor of Marco Island Academy, about applicants for the Calusa Garden Club scholarship, when Mr. Zumstein surprised her with a question: “Would Calusa Garden Club members be interested in helping Marco Island Academy with its landscape plans, and work with the Academy’s Environmental Studies class in achieving the plans?” Mrs. Foley was thrilled. Since moving to a condominium on Marco Island, she had been itching to get her hands dirty in the soil with gardening projects. Thus, was born a collaboration between an ad hoc group of members from the Calusa Garden Club and Marco Island Academy, as well as Naples Botanical Gardens becoming an important part of the project as it nearedcompletion.
Calusa Garden Club members toured the Academy grounds, surveyed the existing landscaping, and made a report to Academy Principal Melissa Scott, Dean of Students Kelly Monott, Environmental Science teacher Jerry Miller, and Guidance Counselor Chris Zumstein. The report outlined suggestions for additional plants, trees, and shrubs that would enhance the campus. Three planting areas were identified: The Academy’s existing Memorial Garden, with both sun and shade areas, the land surrounding the Academy’s sign, and the main entrance at the plaza between buildings. After discussing the report with the Academy committee, Mrs. Foley sent an enthusiastic email to Calusa Garden Club members asking for donations of plants for the Academy. Garden Club members responded with loads of plants from their own gardens and from local garden suppliers.
An inspired Mrs. Foley contacted Chad Washburn,Deputy Director of Naples Botanical Garden, on the chance the Botanical Garden had surplus plants that would fit the needs of the Academy. She gave Mr. Washburn a list of the plants that the Garden Club suggested. Naples Botanical Garden generously supplied over 35 plants for the Garden Club’s landscape design, including trees, flowering shrubs, and bromeliads. The landscape plan called for dracaena marginata for the Memorial Garden, and Naples Botanical Garden supplied at least three beautiful specimens.
On May 2nd, members of the Garden Club and students from teacher Jerry Miller’s Environmental Science class began their day of hard work. The group planted more than 40 new plants and transplanted about 10 plants to areas better suited to their needs. The “before and after” pictures show how hard everyone worked, and highlightthe superb results. Marco Island Academy students will water their new landscape for the rest of May, and then nature and summer rains will take over to complete the project. Come September, the beautiful grounds of Marco Island Academy will be a showplace.
Calusa Garden Club is a member of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs. Membership is open to persons interested in horticulture, floral design, and environmental matters, who reside five months or more in Collier County.
Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island meets the second Monday of each month, October through March, at Wesley United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 350 S. Barfield Drive, Marco Island. Business meetings begin at 12:30 PM and programs begin at 1:15 PM. Calusa Garden Club welcomes visitors. Contact the Garden Club at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Garden Club’s website, calusa.org.