The journey in creating this outdoor gathering space at the Bridges House has been a privilege for me. From the beginning of Chris’s time as governor, I have been using the Bridges House as an apolitical, nonpartisan space to bring all kinds of granite staters together. I like to say we are “building bridges.”
The intention behind the garden has been to work collaboratively with the Friends of the Bridges House nonprofit (FOBH), the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) for the state of New Hampshire, the UNH Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program, the NHTI Landscape and Environmental Design Program, and several amazing small business owners. Working with a dynamic and varied group of stakeholders is rewarding, and I hope it sets a good example for all of us to be mindful of using a similar model when creating spaces and solving problems. For me, this garden is a passion project. At the very foundation of our best practices of being stewards for our beautiful state is the care and attention to our native plants and pollinators. It’s our responsibility to learn about our habitat and how we can care for it.
This garden will serve as a template for experienced and less experienced gardeners to build a similar garden at home. One that invites the creatures who are busy maintaining our food web every single day; we call them ‘pollinators.’ I hope to also show the seasoned gardener that those plants they’ve been pulling as “weeds” can look beautiful and stately! Any visitor to the Bridges House will be exposed through intention or by osmosis to the structure and beauty of our native flowers. If you click on the link below you will be able to print out a plant list with photos for easy identification. When possible, I will stock my Little Free Library with the latest book that is inspiring me to continuously grow as a steward of the Earth. (Books and gardens just go together, don’t they?) I am also working on an elementary school curriculum to share with the Department of Education, and I hope to invite schools to grow their own pollinator gardens.
Through the Universities of New Hampshire and Maine, this garden is certified as a Certified Pollinator-Friendly Garden. In addition, we are certified as a Monarch Watch Garden, and as a Pollinator Pathway. The generosity of spirit and supplies from the FOBH and from all the partners has been overwhelmingly kind and supportive. Please take a moment to visit the websites of these partners by clicking on the links below. These businesses are leaders in horticultural knowledge and habitat protection.
This garden would not have been possible without the support from the UNH Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners who helped us to plant and care for 1400 plants! Thank you so much to Ruth Smith, Master Gardener Program Manager for helping us to nurture this partnership. Thank you to Tom Murphy and Kevin Jordan at DAS for going above and beyond the call of duty and for safeguarding my vision and to Brandon Pratt for documenting this amazing journey! Finally, the cooperation, fortitude, professionalism and grit of the core team whose hundreds of hours into this project is humbling! To: Morgan Sullivan, Rhonda Hensley, Stephanie Green, and Nelson Barber; the state of NH will forever have a garden to inspire others and to source plants that can protect and heal our state- because of you! You also made a very special dream of mine a reality. My heart is full of gratitude; thank you, thank you, thank you; Valerie