Brandon’s volunteer-led “Adopt-a-Garden” sows civic beauty


Volunteers have tended more than two dozen gardens throughout downtown Brandon as of the new “Adopt-a-Garden” program.
Photo by Mat Clouser

BRANDON — Whether they live in the area or are just passing through, most people agree that Brandon is a good-looking town. It’s got good bones, or so the saying goes. But bones alone aren’t enough to supply a town with life—plenty of so-called ghost towns are propped up on good bones. What they lack is people. 

As obvious as it may seem, people are the lifeblood of civic endeavors. Specifically, it’s the kind of people willing to make their corner of the world just a little bit better that really make a place sing—and even more so when they all pitch in together.

One person in particular whose work has gone a long way towards helping facilitate civic beauty in Brandon is Sarah Pattis, who, for the first time this year, helped organize a group of like-minded citizens in the “Adopt-a-Garden” program that’s kept downtown filled with flower gardens throughout summer, and now into to fall.

Photo by Mat Clouser

Pattis said the idea for the program—in which townspeople volunteer to take care of small gardens throughout the downtown area—came from a trip to the coastal town of Edmunds in Washington state. “I was impressed with the small gardens [there] with signs announcing that they were either up for adoption or had been adopted,” she said.

Upon returning to Brandon, Pattis approached the town with the idea of doing something similar in Brandon, and the program has been flowering ever since.

Pattis said she currently counts 27 gardens, ranging in size, that stretch from the south end of Central Park north through town to Crescent Park and the Baptist church.

Photo by Mat Clouser

Pattis says the names of most adopters (some of whom wish to remain anonymous) are displayed on whimsical garden signs in each area. At first, the signs were designed by volunteers Cindy and Ed Thomas before being re-designed and painted by local artist Robin Kent—whom Pattis says the town graciously agreed to compensate for her efforts.

“This is the first year of what I hope will be an ongoing project with gardens loved and tended by their adopters,” said Pattis, who also noted that the town has expressed its willingness to assist with plantings and improvements, adding that she hopes next spring to hold a plant “dividing and swap day” aimed at adding color and filling in holes within the existing gardens.

“This fall, we will [hold] a “putting the gardens to sleep for the winter” event,” she said, also mentioning that she will approach the town about buying bulbs to prep for early spring colors.

Photo by Mat Clouser

Pattis said multiple people in town have shown interest in the project beyond those who’ve already contributed and that anyone interested in getting involved can email her at if they’d like to be kept in the loop on future developments. “My approach is to be very hands-off and let the gardeners enjoy their gardens and see how things progress,” she said.

Pattis said that in the future, she’d like to see the rain gardens (bioswales) on Park Street added to the adopted list and that she has already reached out to the designer and acquired the list of plants that were initially planted.

In the meantime, residents and visitors alike need do nothing more than kick back and enjoy the view—that is, unless they feel like dusting off their old bones and pitching in a seed or two. 

Here is the list of all those who volunteered this year who wished to be identified (in alphabetic order):

Amanda Berry

Brandon Baptist Church 

Jean Childers

Bob Clark

Jessica and Jay Doos

Carol Fjeld

Sally Foster

Warren Foster

Tracy Holden

Rep. Stephanie Jerome

Amy Kaufmann

Nancy Leary

Nancy and Gary Meffe

Nancy Ness

Sarah Pattis

Maureen and Mitch Pearl

Cecil Reniche-Smith

Joan Rowe

Cindy Thomas

Allie Walter

Ellen Walter

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