A gardener’s mission: Flowers for everyone

Oct. 16—POTTSVILLE — In her garden on Bunker Hill, Jane Kruse has reserved space for propagating plants to be placed in community gardens throughout Schuylkill County.

“That’s part of who I am,” said Kruse, a retired social worker and master gardener. “It’s about sharing and beautifying.”

Kruse’s dedication to plants and gardening recently earned her the coveted position of director of District 2-3 of the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania.

As district director, a volunteer position, she coordinates activities among about 13 garden clubs in northeastern Pennsylvania.

A longtime member of the South Schuylkill Garden Club, she was named district director at the Pennsylvania federation’s annual meeting in September in Milford, Pike County.

Perhaps fittingly, the Gifford Pinchot Home is in Milford. A Pennsylvania governor, Pinchot was a leading conservationist and the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service.

“Gardening is not just about flowers anymore,” Kruse said, “it’s also about sustainable living.”

A secluded garden

Kruse, who’s lived on Bunker Hill for about 25 years, relishes the time she spends in her garden.

“I just feel like a different person when I’m outside doing something in nature,” she confided. “I find it enjoyable, enabling other people to feel the beauty of nature.”

Even in fall, Kruse’s garden is alive with color.

An American cranberry bush shows off rich red berries, and bees busily gather the nectar of purple asters.

“In fall,” she noted, “the asters give bees pollen late in the season.”

Pears, cherries and blueberries ensure that Kruse’s will be a garden of plenty for catbirds, robins and other birds.

A ninebark bush blooms with clusters of white blooms in spring, she explained, and bears red fruit in late summer and autumn, attracting birds.

Some plants harbor secrets behind the beauty of its flowers.

One is the elderberry bush, or tree, which grows wild throughout Schuylkill County. It’s well known that the elderberry berries make good wine, but the plant has another not so well-known use.

Snapping a twig from a dead elderberry cutting, Kruse explained: “You remove the soft pulp center and you can make a whistle or a flute.”

Flowers for everyone

As a member of the South Schuylkill Garden Club, Kruse has participated in ongoing efforts at beautification throughout the county.

The Bunker Hill Children’s Garden, butterfly gardens in Pine Grove and Schuylkill Haven, and the garden at the Schuylkill Haven Recreation Center are among the club’s projects.

The pollinator garden at the Schuylkill County Fairgrounds and the Walburn’s Children’s Garden in Orwigsburg gained recognition from the National Garden Clubs.

When she’s not working on club projects, Kruse engages in her community work.

She weeds at the Yuengling Bicentennial Park and Garden, a short distance from her home. She installed a rain garden at the Schuylkill Hope Center for Victims of Domestic Violence, and worked on a meditative garden at the Simon Kramer Cancer Institute in Blythe Twp..

Having grown up on a farm in Indiana, Kruse’s roots are in the soil.

In winter, she paces around the house in anticipation of spring.

“To me, relating to nature is natural,” she said. “It’s fulfilling an undefined need to do something outside.”

Contact the writer: rdevlin@republicanherald.com; 570-628-6007

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