By R. Rodgers
“Mom, When am I going to be a gardener?,” asked Robin Heider of her mother when she was quite young, wanting to follow in her mom’s footsteps. This question seems unbelievable coming from Robin, the “Chief” of the Windham Garden Club. Robin’s parents were both avid gardeners her whole life, but she just couldn’t seem to find the time for it. That’s all changed now and has been for a very long time. Robin and her husband Bruce have devoted their retirement to tending their garden, “The Yard”.
The high school sweethearts moved to Windham in 1976 and still live in the same beautiful home where the morning sun greets them hello and the sunset bids them goodnight each day. “When we first came here, Bruce grew vegetables, but as the trees grew in we switched to perennials,” said Robin.
Robin’s garden holds many favorites for her in the spring it’s all the bright colored bulbs and peonies, and of course day lilies that she loves. Her real favorites, though, are the Hosta, coral bells, and the plants that don’t “show off” with flowers. She much prefers their foliage and the textures of the less showy plants. “There is so much to enjoy about plants besides the flowers,” said Robin. Her gardens are mostly shady. Lately, she has been turning more toward shrubs and container gardens for their ease of care. Her most prized shrub is the Beauty Berry (callicarpa americana), a seemly insignificant 3-to-6-foot shrub that only shows its glory in late summer through fall in the manner of bright, plump purple berry clusters. Taking care of the “Yard” is a full-time job for the pair and a great retirement activity. They work from March through November, starting with pruning and ending with mulch. When she’s not in her garden, she volunteers at many places, including one of her favorites, Bedrock Gardens in Lee NH in the “Hands in Dirt” program. Robin was a Founding Member of the Windham Garden Club in 1990.
The Windham Garden Club has volunteers that take special care of many spots in the town. Robin is there for each work detail, from planning all the way through to watering the masterpieces when they are finished. These places include the Butterfly Garden at the Nesmith Library, the Town Hall, Bartley House, Veterans Cemetery, and the Gazebo. Aside from that she has been a Co-Chair of the Annual Plant Sale for many years. The Plant Sale is the biggest undertaking for the club. The money raised by the sale goes back into the community through scholarships and grants. The Arthur Baker Community Investment Grant has been given out for projects like conservation mapping, High School Greenhouse Project, flagpole beautification, and trail markers to name a few, along with scholarships to graduation seniors.
The Club also gives out member recognition awards. Receiving most of them over the years, including the Mighty Oak, where she was dubbed “Chief” and given the Golden Trowel for outstanding achievements in service, Robin also WOW’ed two Presidents. Officially that is, I’m sure they were all “wow’ed” by Robin and her amazing dedication to the Club and her never-ending strive to make the earth a better place. “I promote people to join the garden club. There is so much to learn. I’ve been around a long time and I’m still learning!” encouraged Robin.