ELLSWORTH — On a warm and sunny Sunday morning, a handsome granite bench was dedicated in memory of longtime parishioner Joan Preble on the south lawn of St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church.
With family and friends gathered at the July 21 memorial, Rev. Johanna Johansson dedicated the 5-foot bench to remember Joan, who served as St. Dunstan’s deacon for many years. Joan passed away on April 13, 2018, after a battle with cancer.
The granite bench, crafted by Freshwater Stone in Orland, was donated by Friends in Action, where Joan volunteered in many roles. The inset bronze plaque, which was donated by St. Dunstan’s, reads “In loving memory of our Rev. Deacon Joan N. Preble.”
Joan, a longtime Ellsworth preschool teacher at the Down East Family YMCA child care program, was known to her charges as “Mimi.” Prior to that, she co-owned, with Kathy Maddocks, Sunshine Nursery School in Ellsworth. She also volunteered in different capacities with the Girl Scouts.
Joan loved nature and gardening. This granite bench affords a sweeping view of a new L-shaped garden. Near the bench is an interpretive sign with photographs on the benefits of such a garden and is intended as an educational model of what residents and visitors may do on their own properties.
The St. Dunstan’s garden was created to provide food and shelter for insects and other wildlife from early spring until late autumn. The plants in the garden were chosen for their ability to nourish bumblebees and solitary bees; butterflies, moths, and their caterpillars; tachinid flies and hoverflies; beneficial wasps; pollinating beetles and birds.
Among the many herbaceous perennial plants growing in the beds and borders are swamp milkweeds, planted for the caterpillars of monarch butterflies. Visitors will learn that despite its common name, this milkweed will grow well in typical garden soil.
Some of the shrubs include bayberry, high-bush blueberry, and winterberry holly. These plants’ berries, plucked by songbirds in autumn, provide essential energy for long migration flights or for enduring the long Maine winter. As you walk through the garden in late summer through autumn, look for robins, catbirds and thrushes feasting on these berries.
Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) and fall asters (Symphyotrichum nova-angliae) bloom in the garden from late August through September. Together they provide pollen and nectar to a wide range of insects during late summer when few other plants are flowering.
The St. Dunstan’s garden is truly a “Biodiversity Garden,” providing a safe haven for wildlife in an urban environment. The public is invited to visit Joan’s bench, pause to remember Joan, and enjoy viewing the gardens.
The St. Dunstan’s Community Demonstration Gardens project is a partnership of St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Hancock County and the Ellsworth Garden Club.