June Garden Update

Everyone who enters our building must have noticed the greening and flowering of our outdoor landscape. This beautiful lifecycle fuels itself, with one season of plants providing nourishment for the next as its foliage decomposes. In the meantime, our flowers provide beautiful decorations for kiddush tables on Shabbat, and the compost from vegetables and fruit used in kiddush prep helps enrich the soil for all of our plants.

Shomrei Emunah’s front landscape on Park Street was totally renovated in December 2023, by synagogue member Liza Friedman, owner of DC Freeman Landscape Design. The front gardens put on a colorful spring show, with pink and white rhododendrons, mountain laurels, grasses, low evergreens, Japanese grass, yellow achillea, lavender, catmint, and red astilbe thriving and blooming. In April and May, existing daffodils and tulips, followed by perennial lamb’s ear sprung up between the new shrubs and plants. Some of the daffodils were used in the flower arrangements for Shabbat morning. After the daffodils and tulips finished their spectacular show, the foliage was left to nourish next year’s flowers.

Marigolds, zinnias and vinca, all flowering annual plants, were planted in between the bulb foliage that remained in the front flower beds. The bulb foliage will soon dry out; the beds will then be tidied up. The discarded foliage will go in the Shomrei composting container. The marigolds have a scent that helps repel deer. The multicolored long-stemmed zinnias can be cut and used in the bouquets that decorate the tables for Shabbat kiddushim.

Speaking of composting, if you haven’t yet seen Shomrei’s black outdoor composting container, it is in the far left back corner of the synagogue property, behind the big white tent. Kiddush volunteers put fruit and vegetable scraps from kiddush prep into the outdoor container. Once scraps and other landscape detritus (weeds, dried leaves, twigs, etc.) decompose, the rich brown compost will be put back into the garden soil to enrich the soil, resulting in stronger and more vibrant plants.

Seven large concrete barriers now stand at the rear of the parking lot, protecting the playground and tent area. Each barrier is also a container garden filled with soil and mulch. Last fall, daffodils and tulips were planted in the seven container gardens. The bulbs were a gift from May in Montclair, which has been generous to Shomrei Emunah, giving us 250 bulbs in each of the past several years. The container gardens put on a spectacular show in April and May. The containers now contain annuals, each with a few marigolds to repel deer. If you are facing the planters, here is what you’ll see in each container from right (by the building) to left (by the far side of the parking lot):

Container 1: mint, transplanted from my garden
Container 2: basil (purchased at the Montclair History Center plant sale, along with plants for containers 4 – 7)
Container 3: chrysanthemums, left over from Sukkot
Container 4: tarragon and thyme
Container 5: tomatoes
Container 6: tomatoes
Container 7: edible nasturtiums

The tomatoes are in “cages”, which support the branches and make it more difficult for the deer to bite off branches of the plants. The herbs and tomatoes can be used in the Shomrei kitchen. If we have extra, the produce will be given to Toni’s Kitchen or the Human Needs Food Pantry.

Anyone who gardens knows there is always more that can be done to enhance the beauty of a garden. Some of the improvements and additions that could enhance Shomrei’s gardens are:
— Better watering system
— Pruning of shrubs and trees on the north and east sides of the property (near the parking lot and tent)
— More flowering perennials, especially on the Park Street side of the building
— Plants along the south side of the property (the side that borders the newly renovated former Red Cross building)
— Rehabilitation of the garden to the left of the synagogue’s main entrance, which has been overgrown for many years

Help keep the garden green! We have a small gardening committee, the Green Thumbs. We could definitely use more gardening help! If you have even an occasional hour of free time, you can help keep the garden flourishing, by watering, weeding, and pruning the existing plants. You can also help with new plantings, mostly in the spring and fall. No prior experience is required; novice gardeners are very much welcome.

Please contact me if you’re interested in helping Shomrei’s gardens to flourish. Contact: email hidden; JavaScript is required or (201) 981 7055.

The daffodils in this photo were cut from our own flowers! The bulbs were donated to us by May in Montclair.

Sharon Hurwich
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