Submitted By: Sara Wolf

Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island – Publicity Chairperson

Thanks to Virginia Read, a long time member of Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island, the team of Calusa Garden Club and Marco Island Cemetery Association refurbished and refreshed the plantings around the Veterans’ Memorial in Marco Island Cemetery.  The Garden Club supplied the plants and the planting services, and the Cemetery Association supplied the funds for the plants.

Read’s friends Therese Giannone and Joe Lombardo spoke to Read about what landscaping would refresh the area.  They take a proprietary interest in the memorial because Therese’s sons, Joseph and Vincent Giannone, members of Boy Scout Troop 234 of Marco Island, had raised funds for the Veteran’s Memorial as part of their Eagle Scout Project in 2007.  The beautiful granite Veteran’s Memorial was erected in 2008, thanks to the Giannone twins, the Boy Scouts, and the generosity of local Marco Island citizens and businesses.  Since 2008, the original landscaping of Carissa (White Flower) with red and blue accents had become overgrown or had died.

In April and early May, a team of Calusa Garden Club members Sara Wolf, Sue Oldershaw, Maria Bachich and Janet Watson visited the Veterans’ Memorial and agreed on a new landscaping plan with Florida friendly plants that would flourish in our hot climate, rainy summer and dry winter.  Oldershaw had worked with Eve Schliesser, one of the original founders of Calusa Garden Club, in 2008 when the plaza around the beautiful Veterans’ Memorial was originally landscaped, and she enjoyed working on the refreshing of the original design. The plants were purchased, and on May 15, 2021, four Garden Club members – Maria Bachich, Nancy Adams, Monna Hormel and Sara Wolf — planted the new landscaping in the plaza.  The new plants include six low-growing Carissa (White Flower) bushes known as Emerald Blanket, a row of Schefflera arboricola variegata, and twelve Neoregelia fireball bromeliads.  The workers pruned the existing Carissa White Flower bushes that were remaining from the original landscaping and removed the oyster plants that were hard to control.  They planted the Emerald Blanket in the front of the plaze to make an attractive entrance on both sides of the walk and planted the Schefflera arboricola variegata along the right side of the plaza to mirror the border of the neighboring memorial plaza.  They added the Neoregelia fireball bromeliads as a striking accent in the four corners of the inner planting area surrounding the Memorial. 

 The group photo shows Monna Hormel, Sara Wolf, Nancy Adams and Maria Bachich smiling after completing the new plantings at the Veterans’ Memorial. Additional photos show the club members planting the new plants and the finished Memorial with its plantings. 

The 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.  

Calusa Garden Club meets October through April. Contact the Garden Club at, or visit the Garden Club’s website, or its Facebook page Calusa Garden Club.

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Sara Wolf took all the photos.