“These are all perennials from our own garden,” Northrup said, indicating various new plantings he’s done at the little zen-style garden outside of the Vankleek Hill Creating Centre at the corner of Main Street and High Street.
The retired high school teacher and his wife, Margaret, another retired teacher, have both made the upkeep of the memorial garden their personal project. They see it as the best way for them to honour the memory of Phil Arber, the man responsible for many of the festivals and special events which are part of Vankleek Hill’s spring and summer seasons.
“Phil Arber always did a lot of good for this community,” Northrup said. “We figured it was the least that we could do.”
They were inspired to become the unofficial memorial garden gardeners last year when Margaret Northrup chanced upon Samme Putzel, Phil Arber’s widow, busy trying to clear away some of the weeds that were encroaching on the garden.
“It had all gone to weed,” Northrup said. “She (Putzel) was clearing them out by the armful. We thought this was just ridiculous.”
So they asked Putzel if she would object to them spending some time caretaking for the memorial garden. Putzel was delighted.
As far as Eric Northrup is concerned, it’s just another opportunity for him to exercise his green thumb.
“This only takes me 15 or 20 minutes, every other day,” he said, smiling. “I’m retired, I need to get out, and I’m a pretty good gardener. It makes Vankleek Hill look pretty, which is a pretty good thing.”