Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Red Hat Lady!

Mimi is a member of one of our local Red Hat Clubs.  This is a wonderful thing.  She has made a lot of friends here in Central Florida through "The Red Hats".  Today was their April outing.  I hear that they had a great time at The Elephant Bar and then had an especially delicious cake in honor of a number of their members who all celebrate their birthdays in April (including Mimi).  Mimi stopped by the church so I could see her in her red and purple finery, and of course I insisted on several photos, which were made in Wekiva Presbyterian Church's Courtyard Memorial Garden. 

Above are several of them for you to see.

I'm not sure I have fully told the story of the creation of Memorial Garden. 15 years ago, it was a tree shaded back yard of the church, open at both ends, but tucked between the Sanctuary and Education Building. In 2000, we completed a link building that greatly expanded our education area--much of our Christian Child Center and our Adult, High School and Middle School classes benefit from the expansion. Part of the vision at that time was to redesign the space that was now inside a U shaped area so that it could become a garden.

At the time, a dozen years ago, we had a member of the congregation who is a professional landscape architect for a big firm and had worked on many large projects such as the Orlando International Airport, which has very striking landscaping as all who have been there will tell you. She told the committee that was in charge of developing the garden that she would design it as a gift to the church, and of course we were all delighted. But, sadly, it did not turn out that way. Before the garden was ready to be landscaped, she informed the church that she and her family were going elsewhere because, as she put it, she had made all of the professional contacts that she could at our church and so, was off to some other church to make more (!) I am sure other people have moved around like that for the same reasons, at many a church, but it did come as a surprise that she was so very blunt about it. All these years later, it still is "one for the books". A part of me hopes she made the contacts she was looking for.  And another part of me... I suppose I should not mention how I feel about it; all who love the church will understand.

The space in the U, meanwhile, still went wanting.

So, having to go back to the drawing board as it were, I remembered dear Polly who had created the Memorial Garden at my past church (Fox Chapel Presbyterian). It is a gorgeous place, surrounded by brick walls and in the shape of a Latin Cross, with plantings that either are mentioned in the Bible or have names with Biblical allusions. She designed, supervised and tended it lovingly. And more recently had moved to Naples, Florida. So I called her and asked her if she might consider designing the garden at Wekvia. Polly gave it a lot of thought but eventually decided that she did not know Florida horticulture sufficiently to feel that she could make the kind of unerring suggestions for us that she had made in Pittsburgh. I know that she would have loved to have done, and I know that what she might have created would have been perfect. But I also understood completely.

The space in the U still sat waiting for just the right person.

Who happened to be a long time member of our congregation, who is an architectural designer and who had for many years worked for and designed for one of the largest restaurant organizations with franchises all over the world. He had among other things designed a huge mural on the theme of a tropical reef for one of their restaurants in Times Square. He had also lovingly tended his own garden for years and knew implicitly what would and would not grow in the rather tricky climate of Central Florida, where we are officially "semi-tropical" but in reality can have droughts and deluges, freezes and fry-an-egg temperatures, and all within a 24-hour span. Tom gladly took on the task and created a wonderful garden that looks as if it had been here before any of the surrounding wings of the church building. It is a perfect place to stop and renew one's spirits. And Tom was exactly the right person to design it for the congregation. As I have noted elsewhere on this blog, it has marvelous bloom all through the year, and a restful fountain at the center.  Tom is one of two people that I would trust implicitly to hand my keys to and say, "Please, redo my house from top to bottom" and know that when I returned I would love every detail of The Big Reveal.  How glad we are that he is a Wekiva Presbyerian.  Tom also designed and painted our Jacobs' Ladder Mural, which I have posted about on the blog previously.

We are so blessed.

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