MYSTIC — Sitting on the curving stone bench in front of Bank Square Books, Anne Esposito took a break from digging holes for new plantings destined for the ornamental fountain and the flower beds at the corner Water Street and West Main Street Thursday morning.
“It’s such a focal point as an entrance into town,” said Esposito, wiping her brow and surveying the progress before her.
Nearby, workers from Sprigs and Twigs Landscaping, based in Ledyard, were removing some of the older plants and readying the soil for new ones.
Esposito’s wish to spruce up the corner and make it more welcoming to visitors was finally underway after months of thinking and planning.
It all started last fall. Esposito and her fiancé, Ken Soeder, with whom she owns Cliffside Guest House at 5 Grove Ave., had a habit of walking down to the little plaza where the fountain sits.
“We’d sit out here and have coffee in the morning and we would look at the three corners,” she said.
That was when she noticed the plants and landscaping were in need of attention, and she decided to do something about it.
First she brought a proposal to Mark Berry, director of Parks and Recreation for Groton, but he said there was no money budgeted for plantings or upkeep for the site.
“So I said all right, would you mind if I take it over and see what I can do with it?” she said. “Mark said okay and I had the blessing of the town and of Public Works and that’s when I started to look around.”
Esposito talked to several landscapers about the project, eventually finding Linda Lillie, owner of Sprigs and Twigs, who was very responsive to the idea.
“She drew up a design, she came over, we met and talked,” Esposito said. “She’s been my miracle worker, she’s just been awesome.”
The project was a great opportunity for serving the community, said Lillie, who was onsite preparing the beds for the new plantings Thursday.
“Ann gave me a call back in February, and we try to do projects around our community and give back every year,” Lillie said.
Because the site lacks access to water, the plan was to remove the high-maintenance plants and keep the low-maintenance ones, said Lillie.
“We want to make these two beds low-,so we’re keeping the the plants that are easy to care for and that pretty much survive with the least amount of care, and we’re going to be installing new plants,” she said. “We’re also taking out the ornamental grasses, because they tend to be high-maintenance. The higher grasses tend to die in the center and have to be dug up and split and they have to be cut down at the end of the year.”
Shore juniper, bearberry, inkberry, and hummingbird mint were among the low-maintenance species Lillie was adding in. She said her crew would also plant species attractive to pollinators.
Esposito said she was seeking donations for a sign recognizing Sprigs and Twigs’ contribution to the project, which added up to about $10,000, including the plants, labor time and design work.
She said she was also looking for people to help with the ongoing maintenance of the plantings, especially with the watering.
“The challenge here is water. You have to bring in water, there’s no other way to get water,” she said. “I’m looking to form a team to help me maintain this on a regular basis.”
And this project was just the beginning, Esposito said.
“My plan is to seek out other areas in town that need some kind of beautification, and I’m looking for one person to assist me in that and to try and keep it as low-maintenance and cost-effective as possible,” she said.
Esposito can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-213-0183.