Editor’s note: This story is the second of a two-part series highlighting the Albany County Public Library’s gardens. Visit www.laramieboomerang.com to read part one, “Public library grows into new role,” which was published Sept. 1.
Tucked into an alcove on the north side of the Albany County Public Library, Janet Shively’s memory is etched from stone and blossoming with the seasons.
Created by the Laramie Garden Club and friends of Janet Shively, the library’s newest growing space was installed as a labor of love by those who knew her best, widower Mark Shively said.
“Janet loved flowers, rocks and being outdoors,” Mark Shively said. “She would’ve loved this location, and many of the features here I brought from our home.”
Janet Shively died about five years ago after succumbing to breast cancer, he said. A longtime member of the garden club, she helped plant and maintain several gardens around the community.
Through the club, she met Amy Fluet, who worked with Mark Shively to plan the Janet Shively Memorial Garden.
“We’ve been planning this for about two-and-a-half years,” Mark Shively said, leaning against one of the sandstone boulders that compose a small amphitheater at the center of the garden.
Fluet smiled and added, “It feels like ten years sometimes.”
Beneath a warm midday sun, Mark Shively looked around the nook and patted the sandstone.
“This project came together one rock at a time,” he said.
Lined by tall conifers, the garden can be easily accessed by pedestrians walking along Grand Avenue.
Separated from the sidewalk with split-rail fencing, the growing space features a large stone tile patio Albany County Public Library Director Ruth Troyanek said she hopes to use as a reading area once work is completed.
“I envision the garden being a space the library would use for story time,” Troyanek said. “But I can also see people doing something like an open mic night in the garden once the electricity is hooked up.”
Years of planning and construction were aided by the efforts of several community members including the city’s arborist, who suggested the skyline honey locust tree planted in the southwest corner, and the Sutter family, who volunteered their time and expertise every step of the way, Mark Shively said.
All told, he estimated about 30 volunteers helped create the memorial, and Fluet said more than a few businesses contributed time and resources to the project.
“As for the plants, we’ve got a mix of grasses and bulbs native to the area and well-adapted to Laramie’s climate,” Fluet explained.
The area is open to everyone, and if visitors like a particular sprout, Troyanek said they’ll likely find it in the seed library.
“The High Plains Seed Library opened in 2015,” she said. “The idea is the library will be filled with all things locally grown and gathered.”
Albany County Public Library Foundation Executive Director Caitlin White said the library gardens are significant contributors to the seed library.
“There’s a lot of plants in these in these gardens that can be found in the seed library for people to borrow,” White said. “It’s a nice tie-in to show people how the plants could look in their own yards.”
A flagstone pathway leads up the east side of the alcove to a concrete pad, where Fluet said a bench was slated to be installed and river-rock rip rap threads through the space giving rain runoff a drainage path.
“We’ll be planting bulbs soon, and we hope to add the bench and a plaque for Janet by next year,” she said. “A garden is never complete, but it’s open for business, and we hope people will use it. That’s the best way to honor Janet’s memory.”