Volunteers are needed to help beautify the old cemetery in Midhirst. Photo / Ilona Hanne
When Clare O’Connell visited the old cemetery in Midhirst, she had an idea for the community.
“My great-great-grandmother’s headstone has been replaced to include more of her story. My cousin organized everything. We had an unveiling and while I was there I admired the cemetery and I I thought.”
Clare remembers visiting the cemetery and the grave of her great-great-grandmother Frances Snell with her father when she was a child.
“At the time I was surrounded by cattle, first cows and later sheep. How beautiful that this cemetery is now securely fenced off, preventing four-legged visitors from entering. The Memorial Wall and the front gate are impressive and with the manicured lawn it now looks like a charming historic cemetery.”
Having also visited Te Henui Cemetery in New Plymouth, Clare says she began to think about how the one in Midhirst could become a colorful garden like this.
His idea started by thinking he needed a seat for people to sit at the cemetery while remembering their loved ones.
“Then I thought, how fantastic would it be to have some color and a garden full of beautiful flowers for people to look at while visiting those who passed by.”
The old cemetery is on Beaconsfield Rd, next to the new Midhirst cemetery. The first confirmed burial in the cemetery was in December 1882 and for some time it was the only cemetery in the district. The last burial took place there in November 1956 and the cemetery officially closed in 1995.
Clare says there are a lot of keen gardeners in the central Taranaki region, she would like to involve other green-thumbed enthusiasts.
“If people had spare plants or seeds that could be donated, that would be great. It would be a real community effort.
“We could involve gardening groups and other green hands to help. It would give the cemetery a bit of color and when people visited loved ones they could lay seeds or do a bit of gardening as well.”
Clare contacted Stratford District Council who gave their backing to the idea.
“The council spoke to its contractors and a member of the community group about the idea and where the garden could be located in the cemetery. I can’t wait to see this project get started.
She suggested a monthly work bee.
“We could make it drop off day for the spare plants and the day the gardeners could come and help out.”
■ For more information or to get involved, contact Stratford District Council on 06 765 6099.