The Z Rock & rain garden

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall....
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Rainy Day


Z Rock & Rain Garden
at the rain garden
Above: The rain garden in 2010 on dedication day,
the plaque, and
the rain garden in 2013

On June 8, 2012, friends and community members gathered to dedicate the "Z Rock & Rain Garden” in Doug's honor.

Doug loved the outdoors, gardens and Woodstock. He spent his career protecting the environment. He volunteered for the Historical Society for 10 years. He watched the weather channel a lot. Many tears were shed when he died.

So a demonstration rain garden-erosion control project at the Historical Society in our hometown seemed like a fitting tribute. (There is also a Z Memorial composting outhouse at Bigelow Hollow.)

A rain garden is a special kind of garden planted in a small depression. It is filled with native plants and perennials that thrive in partially wet conditions. It will temporarily hold and soak in rain water runoff that flows from impervious surfaces like roofs and parking lots.

These landscaping features will help prevent dampness in the Historical Society building, and address a 40+ year erosion problem at Palmer Arboretum downhill. The garden will also attract beneficial birds, butterflies and insects. In addition, it will serve as a demonstration project for others interested in installing a rain garden. As our friend Bill Brower noted, Doug is still getting people to work together to solve environmental problems.

The garden was a collaborative effort. Jean Pillo, the project leader, called its creation a Stone Soup story. In that fable, a pot of soup was started with three stones. Then everyone in a village added a little bit until they made a feast. The moral "is that by working together and everyone contributing just a little, a greater good is achieved."

The Woodstock Historical Society, Town of Woodstock, and the Palmer Arboretum Committee partnered with the Eastern Connecticut Conservation District (ECCD) on this project. It was funded with generous donations made to the Woodstock Historical Society in Doug’s memory, and a sizeable Clean Water grant that Jean Pillo of the ECCD obtained from the U.S. EPA through the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Projection. Faist Engineering Inc. donated engineering expertise. The Arboretum Committee assisted with the design. The Town of Woodstock Highway Department constructed new catch basins to capture excess rainfall. And last but not least, many individuals and organizations volunteered time, supplies and equipment to make the garden and the dedication a reality. Remaining donations will be used to fund a plaque, plant tags and long-term maintenance.

Speakers at the event, which was attended by more than 90 people, included Gail White, President of the Woodstock Historical Society; Bill Brower, Chair of the Palmer Arboretum Committee; Jean Pillo, Watershed Coordinator for the Eastern Connecticut Conservation District, and Doug's family. 

Afterwards, people added their own rocks to the rip rap around the storm drain - rocks that came from Woodstock CT to Switzerland and everywhere in between. The garden has some Bleeding Heart plants from our garden, a granite bench Doug's brother and sister-in-law gave us as a wedding present, a painted rock Doug's sister made as a child, and a bluebird nestbox built by Tom Comfort.

Our family will always be grateful to everyone involved.



With gratitude to the many individuals and organizations who helped create the garden, including:

  • Woodstock Historical Society (Doug was the Woodstock Historical Society Program Chair for many years, and also served as Vice President.)
  • Eastern Connecticut Conservation District (project coordination)
  • CT Dept. of Energy & Environmental Protection & U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Clean Water Grant to install demonstration projects. Co-incidentally, Doug worked for the CTDEP for 27 years)
  • Town of Woodstock Highway Department (installed the underdrain structure beneath the garden)
  • Faist Engineering Inc. (engineering plans)
  • Palmer Arboretum Committee (planting guidance)
  • Frito-Lay (volunteers)
  • Leo Morisette (boulder transport from our house)

HARD LABOR (moving mulch, planting, etc.)

  • Heather Belanger
  • Beverly Brazeal
  • Earl Brazeal
  • Bill Brower
  • Marylou Davis
  • David Faist
  • Chad Hart
  • Louise Kaskela
  • Kim Kelly
  • Grace Jacobson
  • Colby Johns
  • Kiara Monahan
  • Melita Monahan
  • Pat Monahan
  • Leo Morissette
  • Tony Reed
  • Judy Rondeau
  • Patricia Simoni
  • Patrick Smith
  • Matt Snurkowski
  • Leslie Sweetnam
  • Beverly Thornton
  • Many other Woodstock Historical Society Members & Friends


  • Doris Barrett
  • Mary Ellen Blake
  • Jacqueline Bondy
  • Heath Drury Boote
  • Earl & Beverly Brazeal
  • William & Lois Brower
  • The Chapuis Family
  • Linda & W.Thomas Chase
  • Mary Lou Davis & Steve Gottlieb
  • Roby Enge
  • Leo & Elizabeth Foxwell
  • Stephen Gajewski
  • Theresa & Edward Hammond
  • Judy H. Hosmer
  • William Lindsey
  • Loureiro Engineering Associates
  • Christina Mitchell
  • David Nash
  • Pat & John Papini
  • Marilyn Pomeroy
  • Fred & Barb Robinson
  • Reva Seybolt
  • Genneday Shteynberg
  • Paul & Judith Szmanski
  • Kathy Sobon
  • Eric & Stacey Vangsness
  • Angelique Vernon
  • Joe West
  • Paul & Florence Wilbur


The Inn at Woodstock Hill  Fairvue Farms  Frito Lay Taylor Brooke Winery  Various bakers



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