CONSTABLEVILLE — The multi-year renovation project for Constable Hall’s 200-year-old garden is about to launch for the season at the iconic and historical Lewis County manor.

The second year of renovations will include repairing hedges, adding a drip irrigation system and installing new path edging among other upgrades set to begin next month.

Work will also involve replacing the topsoil and replanting three of the beds that were completely removed last year to rid them of invasive species.

One of the fresh beds will be planted with period-specific herbs that will eventually be labeled with their various uses.

Maintaining the 16 triangle-shaped flower beds that will bloom with dozens of varieties of flowers by early summer will also begin next month. The effort takes a small army of volunteers every year to help Garden Master Gina A. Mallette.

This year will be no exception.

The “sponsor a triangle” program invites individuals or groups of volunteers to “adopt” one of the triangles for their focus all summer or generally set up times and days to be at the gardens to perform various tasks.

Volunteers of all skill levels, from novice to expert, are encouraged to help. For those who have never tried gardening, it is an opportunity to learn from an accomplished gardener.

The optimum number of volunteers for the garden is about 32 — two people per triangle — Ms. Mallette said, as “it’s a lot of work” for one person to keep up a triangle bed.

Renovations to the garden were a result of an August 2019 conversation between Ms. Mallette and Harry A. Rissetto of Falls Church, Va., who, with his wife Grace, has a summer home in Inlet.

“Over the years the triangles were no longer symmetrical and the paths were uneven, so I was telling Harry about it one day and he offered to help with a matching grant,” Ms. Mallette said. “Otherwise, this project never would have happened without his generosity.”

After more than a year of fundraising, construction including pulling out the crooked turf paths to replace them with historically correct gravel and realigning the planting beds were completed.

“We’re basically taking it back to our earliest photos of the garden,” Ms. Mallette said. The photos all showed gravel paths.

The final cost of the project is expected to be about $32,000. Fundraising to ensure the work can be completed is also ongoing.

The geometrically nuanced garden has been maintained continuously since about 1820, after the hall itself was completed in 1819, making it one of the oldest gardens in the country.

To learn more about the garden or volunteer, call Constable Hall at 315-348-8280 and leave a message for Ms. Mallette or send her an email at gmallette54@gmail.com.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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