"My gardening days began at Grandma's," said Mildred McNeal, granddaughter of Mary and Albert Martin, in 2003 when the Powell Area Garden Club undertook a project to restore and add to the gardens at the Martin-Perry House.

"My gardening days began at Grandma's," said Mildred McNeal, granddaughter of Mary and Albert Martin, in 2003 when the Powell Area Garden Club undertook a project to restore and add to the gardens at the Martin-Perry House.

The house now is home to the Powell Liberty Historical Society.

Mildred, who would be over 100 years old if she were living today, spent several of her youngest years living with her grandmother at the house. Both her father and her grandfather had died, and her mother commuted to Columbus for work, residing in the city during the week.

Young Mildred remembered playing house in the trees by the home and said, "Even weeds became building spots. I had a lot of imagination."

Mildred also had a great memory, because she described in detail all that grew on the property. There were plum, apple, cherry, peach and pear trees, and Mary Martin canned the fruits, adding to the large pantry off the dining room. A grape arbor existed with red, white and blue grapes, Mildred said, and she listed at least 16 kinds of vegetables that were planted. Jim Lowry, her grandmother's brother, had his daughters farm the back fields, and Mildred was often with the women.

As to the flowers that once grew there, they included nasturtiums, cosmos, gladiolas, hollyhocks, peonies, lilacs, sweet peas and zinnias. Look for zinnias to be planted this year in our flagpole garden.

Originally, the land where the Martin-Perry House sits today on Powell Road at Grace Drive was a farm of 43 acres. Erwin Perry and his family operated a small dairy there during the Depression, delivering milk to local residents and beyond. Norm Perry recalled his father's excitement when Wayne Brown, owner of the Big Bear Stores (the first self-serve supermarket in the Midwest) stopped and made arrangements with the Perrys to purchase strawberries from them for his stores. Those who have resided in this community for a while know that the Big Bear Farm was on West Powell Road where the Giant Eagle store is today.

The Powell Area Women's Garden Club, as it was first named, was established in 1991, shortly after the Martin-Perry House opened to the public. Their purpose was to give area women an opportunity to enrich their interest in gardening through sharing and learning. They knew there were experienced gardeners, but also many new residents where all could share horticultural questions and advice. Early garden club members donated specific species from their home gardens to begin the project at the Martin-Perry House. Over subsequent years, some trees and plants have been lost and some foundation shrubs, herbs and perennials added.

More recent plantings have come from a wide range of people. Former Powell Mayor Dan Wienek donated a serviceberry tree. The Delaware County Realtors provided two redbud trees, which bloomed beautifully this spring. Peonies were given to us by Jean Kirkham. They were from her grandparents' home, which was across Powell Road from the house. Jean enjoyed them in her yard, and now they are doing well at our gardens. Larry Dulin of Rathbone gave an heirloom iris, and Jo Cornish-Gerwig contributed resurrection lilies from her mother's yard on South Liberty Street. Last fall, a Japanese maple tree was planted by the garden club to honor Marge Bennett, a charter member of both organizations.

These all can be seen in the front or east side of the house.

Beyond plants, the flagpole was donated by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge No. 465, which was chartered in 1870. There is a rock in the garden engraved with a brief history. Henry Schuh, who lived in Texas, donated a bench in memory of his wife, Leona Holly, who grew up in Powell. It is placed among trees not far from the outhouse.

You may have noticed that the club no longer defines itself for women only. If you are interested in learning more about the Powell Area Garden Club, you may contact me at info@powell history.org. I am a member of the garden club as well as the historical society, as are a number of others who enjoy history and gardening. Contact me if you would like a tour of the house and gardens.

Carole Wilhelm is a member of the Powell Liberty Historical Society.