Submitted By: Sara Wolf
Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island – Publicity Chairperson
On January 15, 2021, in honor of Florida Arbor Day, Calusa Garden Club members gathered at Leigh Plummer Memorial Park to plant two native trees. Calusa Garden Club President Sara Wolf gave the assembled guests, including Marco Island City Manager Michael McNees, a brief history of Leigh Plummer Memorial Park prior to the tree planting. Wolf also stated that the trees were being planted in memory of five Calusa Garden Club members who had passed away in the last two years, and the group took a moment of silence to remember these members: Eva Schliesser, one of the founding members of Calusa Garden Club, Cherry McCurn, Jacquelyn Pierce, Doris Wentland, and Peggy Grass.
Calusa Garden Club has a history with Leigh Plummer Memorial Park. In 1982, Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island contacted Collier County to propose establishing the park as a native plant educational area. The area located at 400 North Barfield Drive, and surrounded by Piedmont Circle, had been set aside by the Deltona Corporation developers as a park, and the Garden Club members wanted it to display plants native to South Florida. Under these joint efforts, Leigh Plummer Memorial Park was established in 1984 and named for Mr. Leigh Plummer, a Marco Island resident and longtime Board Member and President of Marco Island Civic Association. Mr. Plummer’s wife, Nell, was a Calusa Garden Club member. At the 1984 dedication of Leigh Plummer Memorial Park, the county announced that the pond would be named Calusa Lake, after the first Native American settlers of Marco Island.
Friday’s planting of two native trees, a paradise tree and a Jamaican dogwood tree, continued the tradition revived in 2019 by Linda Colombo, then president of Calusa Garden Club, to plant native trees in Leigh Plummer Park. This is the third year the Club has donated and planted trees in the park, with the assistance of Marco Island Parks and Recreation supervisor Martha Montgomery and Marco Island Landscape Maintenance supervisor Steve Pawlawski. Without the City of Marco Island’s work to move irrigation drip lines to new trees, the trees would not survive.
Eryk Jadaszewski, owner of Everglades Native Designs, LLC, donated his efforts and expertise to plant the two new trees. Jadaszewski also recommended the paradise tree and the Jamaican dogwood tree as the appropriate trees for the Park, based on his knowledge of Florida native plants.
Calusa Garden Club is a member of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs and membership is open to those interested in horticulture, floral design and environmental matters residing 5 months or more in Collier County.
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Susan LaGrotta and Sara Wolf took the pictures accompanying this article.