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Great Bend Garden Club delves into old cemeteries
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Nancy Swafford caught the interest of members at the November Garden Club meeting with her program entitled, In Old Graveyards, the Graves of the Dead Protect the Living. Pictured is an ancient British cemetery. - photo by Courtesy photos

"In Old Graveyards, the Graves of the Dead Protect the Living" was title of this month’s Garden Club program.

The startling topic of the November Garden Club meeting was explained by Nancy Swafford as she told of how because of old cemeteries, endangered plant species and, by extension, insect, butterfly and bird species often survive the habitat destruction caused by farming and urban development practices.

In old abandoned and neglected graveyards, the lack of mowing and other types of care allows the native grasses and plants of the area to grow and survive. Conservation publications list over 9,300 endangered plant species and there is supposition that there are over 80,000 more across our planet. Many of the ancient varieties of rose bushes have survived in small isolated cemeteries.

A movement to protect small abandoned cemeteries which began in England is believed to have helped protect more than 76 species of birds. In India a biological study determined that old hollow trees in old cemeteries have led to the protection of large owls. In the United States, The Audubon Society has asked active cemeteries to preserve the tall grass prairie grasses and other native grasses by not mowing. So, by their existence, both old and current graveyards are helping preserve our endangered ecosystem.

During the short business meeting, also conducted by President Nancy Swafford, 11 members answered roll call and heard of five new names being engraved on the memorial plaques in the Great Bend Cemetery Rose Garden and the completion of the painting of the plaque poles by Kerry Lampe. Coffee and delicious cinnamon rolls were provided by the hostess for the morning, Jeannine Girton.

The next meeting will be on Dec. 15 with Nancy Swafford again giving the program and Kerry Lampe as hostess.