Monday, June 10, 2013

Memorial Monday (June 10, 2013) -- The Ruth E. Carpenter Memorial Garden, Cumberland, RI

I have written several times on this blog about my maternal grandmother, Ruth Eaton (Cooke) Carpenter.  My grandmother was an avid gardener and was a long-term member of the Cumberland (Rhode Island) Garden Club.  [I am not sure if she might have actually been a charter member.]

This was the Cumberland Garden Club's float for the Arnold's Mill 4th of July Parade
sometime in the 1930s I believe.  While my grandmother is not pictured she was involved in the float.

A meeting of the Cumberland Garden Club.  Exact date and location unknown , but probably in the 1960s.  My grandmother is to the extreme left facing the camera.  Others are unidentified.

My grandmother always maintained flower gardens at her home at 551 High Street in Cumberland.  During the season she grew bachelor buttons for my grandfather and he wore one to work in his lapel every day that they were in bloom.  Ruth's garden shed and one of her flower gardens from August 1961 are shown below.

When my grandmother passed away, the Cumberland Garden Club very kindly established a memorial garden in her name behind what is now the Cumberland Library.  It used to be the Monastery of Our Lady of the Valley and was occupied by the monks of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance (commonly called Trappists).  A large part of the monastery was destroyed by a terrible fire in March 1950, but all 140 monks were able to escape.  Since damages were around $2 million, the community decided to move to another property it owned in Spencer, Massachusetts and the community still exists there today.  

The Town of Cumberland eventually obtained the monastery property and the site is now the town library.  If you go behind the library building there is a lovely, secluded meditative garden named in honor of Ruth Carpenter.  It is maintained by the kind and generous efforts of the Cumberland Garden Club.  The garden is surrounded by a high hedge for privacy and it has two entrances.  If you are ever in Cumberland, you should visit and pause to refresh yourself in this quiet and lovely spot.  I do whenever I am in the area -- rain or shine.

Thank you Cumberland (RI) Garden Club and Dot Corry for establishing and maintaining this lovely and peaceful garden in memory of my grandmother for the last 34 years!  She would have so enjoyed this garden! 

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Photographs from the personal collection of the author.

For more information about the history of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Valley, go here
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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