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updated: 7/25/2014 4:30 PM

Glenbard West student spearheads work to revive garden

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  • Eagle Scout candidate Marty Keane, 17, led a team to renovate the Shakespeare Garden at Glenbard West High School.

      Eagle Scout candidate Marty Keane, 17, led a team to renovate the Shakespeare Garden at Glenbard West High School.
    Courtesy of Marty Keane

  • Here's what the Shakespeare Garden looked like at Glenbard West before student Marty Keane and his team got involved.

      Here's what the Shakespeare Garden looked like at Glenbard West before student Marty Keane and his team got involved.
    Courtesy of Marty Keane

  • Video: Student cleans up garden

 
By Safiya Merchant
smerchant@dailyherald.com

When Marty Keane, a 17-year-old rising senior at Glenbard West High School, needed to complete a service project to become an Eagle Scout, he decided to give his school's Shakespeare Garden a new life.

The idea was born last summer, Keane said, when his grandmother was walking around the school and noticed some of its gardens needed help.

At first, Keane brushed off the idea because he didn't know what he wanted to do for his project. But in November, he spoke to the school's assistant principal for operations, Linda Oberg, about working on a garden and she recommended the Shakespeare Garden.

"She thought it would make the biggest impact and it needed the most help because the weeds were out of control," he said. The garden, Keane said, hasn't really been cared for since its creation around the mid-1990s.

Keane said he always has been interested in nature.

"When I was younger, I thought I was going to be like a landscape architect, so this is sort of like fulfilling that dream, I guess," he said.

Keane is part of Boy Scout Troop 41 in Glen Ellyn. Some of the requirements to become an Eagle Scout include having 21 merit badges and completing a service project and its associated paperwork.

"A lot of people from our troop become Eagle Scouts and my uncle became an Eagle Scout and I've always looked up to my uncle," Keane said.

The capstone project emphasizes service and leadership, Keane said.

"They want you to do something that betters the community, like an institution, your church, your school," he said. "They also want you to show your leadership skills and how you've developed throughout Scouts."

Before Keane's team touched the garden, he said knee-high weeds and dead bushes filled the grounds.

Shakespeare gardens contain plants that are mentioned in the author's writing and at Glenbard West's, such plants are marked by tiny plaques.

"A lot of the plants that were mentioned in the quotes were also buried in weeds so we had to decipher which plant was which," he said. "We had to keep some plants and remove other plants."

After the planning process, Keane's project came to life at the end of June, when 26 volunteers worked with him to renovate the garden.

Keane said other Scouts and some of his friends and family lent a hand. Many supplies were donated by Bruss Landscaping, Inc., including new plants and gravel.

The work included weeding, tilling, removing brush, putting down mulch and planting the donated ferns and hostas.

They also redid the garden's gravel path by placing the old gravel in a different part of the school grounds and putting down a weed barrier and new donated gravel.

Even though Keane has finished his project, the garden is expected to get additional help in the future.

"I think what we'll do now, as an English department, is continue Marty's work by replanting some of the flowers that have nameplates and quotes but had died over time," Glenbard West English Department Chairman Ben Peterselli said.

Peterselli said he hopes they also will put in an arbor and a plaque of rededication.

Keane, who has not yet officially become an Eagle Scout, said he never really noticed the Shakespeare Garden before getting involved in the project.

"Now I hope people will notice it and appreciate it and maybe notice the other gardens at West," he said.

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