The weekend that Tropical Storm Irene hit the Northeast, I was at my parent’s house in Wilmington, Vermont. The storm was surprisingly calming; a steady dump of rain on a quiet, August day. Our house is on a hill and we experienced no flooding. It wasn’t until we got in the car and drove into town that we realized the storm was anything but calming – entire streets were now ponds, sidewalks were split open and entire buildings had been lifted up and taken down the river. The center of an already struggling town had been completely destroyed in one day. This scene stayed with me as I returned home to Burlington, VT. After hearing updates from people in town after the storm, it was apparent that the re-building of Wilmington would be a slow process. Flowers symbolize hope, new beginnings, and renewal – everything that encompassed the town of Wilmington after Tropical Storm Irene. I knew that I could use my resources as an employee of American Meadows, and the generosity of its owners, to help bring life back into the devastated community.
Working with the Beautification Committee in Wilmington, we came up with a list of 60 different gardens in the town that had lost plants to the storm. American Meadows generously decided to donate 5,000 fall bulbs and 120 daylilies to the cause. With this, “Re-Plant Wilmington Day” was born. Over 60 volunteers, including two other American Meadows employees and myself, helped to plant 5,000 bulbs and 120 daylilies in two days. The energy and gratefulness of those involved was inspiring. One volunteer stated, “We're planting bulbs because flowers make people smile. They give people hope." The planting gives the town of Wilmington something to look forward to. Come spring when the snow melts and the ground begins to warm, the tulips and daffodils will emerge and remind everyone that their hope, and strength, helped bring Wilmington back to life. All of us here at American Meadows are thrilled that we could be a part of this story. Click to see the story featured on the NECN news station and in the Brattleboro Reformer.