Thirty-Five Years of Quiet Work

Martha Gendron’s garden has only grown more beautiful over the years

The Bay Magazine ·

Ask Martha “Marty” Gendron what her favorite flower is and chances are she’ll tell you she can’t pick just one. “I like too many,” she says with a laugh, “and that’s why I get carried away.” Marty, who has lived in her Swansea home for 35 years after inheriting it from her mother, has seen her garden grow in droves, literally. “When I moved in, there was one holly, one forsythia and one azalea. Now there are flowers everywhere; it started small and got a little out of hand.”

Out of hand? It’s not as if the neighbors are complaining. Her vibrant blooms even change with the seasons, offering a smorgasbord of dazzling hues for passersby to enjoy. “In the spring, there’s a lot of pink and in the summer, there’s lots of yellow and orange,” she explains. “I’ve tried to add more blues and purples to even it out.” When pressed further, Marty will admit to a favorite flower: “Daylilies are great because they give lots of color, they come in a variety of colors and they don’t get diseases.”

Never one to shy away from hard work, Marty claims that she loves weeding. “I even weed for my neighbors,” she says. “I’m constantly out there, pulling things out and moving things around. If I don’t have much in the way of errands to do, I’m out there working all day long.” In the winter, she turns to quilting, lest her hands be idol. “We have a quilting club here in Swansea,” she says, “and I’m the head of it.”

Marty’s garden is full of interesting statues (“I love strange things and I love gnomes!”) and plants called passiflora that climb up her trellises. She also has an enormous metasequoia tree in the middle of her yard, which she is still in shock over in terms of its rate of growth. “My uncle was a really good gardener in Barrington. He got seeds for a metasequoia and planted it in his yard. When one grew to be four-feet-tall, he gave it to me. Years later, look at it,” she pauses to chuckle. “It’s a monster.”

“You know those little blue flowers that grow on the side of the road? Cornflowers? I used to drive by them all the time. Once I stopped and dug them up to plant in my yard. They didn’t do so well. I learned that wildflowers don’t like the attention; they’re too used to making it on their own.” I can’t help but equate that image to Marty herself; she quietly toils away in her yard, never looking outwards for recognition though much is due.

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