Mark Hayward's City Matters: Life blooms in the garden of Stiles
Janet Stiles does some hand trimming in her deceased husband's garden this week, with daughter Carolyn and son Tom. (MARK HAYWARD/UNION LEADER)
Stiles had many faces: a gregarious salesman; a proud Marine veteran of World War II; a father of three; a civic booster who spearheaded efforts to restore City Hall.
Stiles caught the horticulture bug as a 5-year-old, when a housekeeper taught him how to plant a seed, his family said. A flower emerged, giving blossom to a love of all things green.
The growth steps down to mature sentinels of maples, birches and conifer, offering a comforting shade to smaller ornamentals — Japanese maples, dogwoods and crabtrees. The vegetation cascades down to bushes of holly, lilacs, rhododendrons and mountain laurel.
That appreciation was evident as Carolyn, her two brothers and Janet walked through the garden this week. Mid-sentence, they would grab and dismantle an intrusive stalk of forsythia or haphazard fern.
Janet Stiles said her husband loved finding Manchester objects — cobblestones, fire hydrants, bricks — for his garden. He often got them free.
He acquired thousands of bricks that way, as well as the caretaker's shed, which was built by the Works Progress Administration. Sometimes people would approach Stiles with goodies, such as when Public Service of New Hampshire suggested he visit a field of mountain laurel in Bedford before a line crew sprayed it with pesticide.
Mark Hayward's City Matters appears Thursdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader and UnionLeader.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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