“Betty’s Pot” found next to the Wilton Post Office is one of about 50 planted and cared for by the Tyngtown Club. With no fundraising possible this year due to COVID-19, donations are being accepted to help pay for the project that costs more than $2,000 annually. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

WILTON — For more than 40 years, the Tyngtown Club has been adding color to the downtown through its summer flower project.

It costs more than $2,000 annually for the flowers, fertilizer, soil and container repairs, project organizer Paulette Cahn said in a phone interview Wednesday, July 22.

“People don’t know that,” she said. “With our fundraising problems this year, people might make donations.”

Traditionally, the Tyngtown Club holds a plant sale in May, a blueberry pie sale during the Wilton Blueberry Festival and a golf tournament and a tennis competition (with half of the proceeds helping to maintain the tennis courts at Academy Hill School). Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all were canceled this year.

Donations for the summer flower project may be mailed to Tyngtown Club, P O Box 665, Wilton Maine 04294.

“So many of our members gardened,” Peggy Hodgkins said in a phone interview Wednesday. “There were very few when we started our plant sale. All the others came afterwards.”


Flowerboxes adorn businesses in downtown Wilton through the efforts of the Tyngtown Club. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Hodgkins became a Tyngtown Club member in 1963 and is the longest serving member.

“That club, it’s meant the world to me,” Hodgkins said.

The Tyngtown Club, a women’s club, formed Jan. 13, 1900, for study and mutual improvement,” she said.

The Wiltona Club planted tulips at the Civil War Monument and had flower boxes there, long before the Tyngtown Club got involved, Hodgkins said.

In 1973 or 1974, Hodgkins was the Club’s representative to the Wilton Chamber of Commerce. The Wilton Chamber later joined with Livermore Falls, she said.

“Neither Chamber was very active. They formed a beautification committee that I was on,” Hodgkins said. “I had visited Camden. They had gorgeous flower baskets. I was jealous.”


The Chamber men put together 10 baskets and the Tyngtown Club put together a committee, she said.

“The Chamber built the boxes, paid for the flowers. Tyngtown planted them,” Hodgkins said. “All the stores were asked if it was okay to put baskets in front. The businesses were supposed to water and care for them. There was a wide range of care. Tyngtown had to be more active.”

“Nancy Cureton told me geraniums were planted at first,” Hodgkins said.

Flowerboxes adorn the bridge to the Wilton Free Public Library. The Tyngtown Club’s first major project was raising money to establish the library. In addition to continued support for the library, it also oversees the downtown’s summer flower project. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

The geraniums didn’t work well, it was hard at first but always better than nothing, Hodgkins said.

In 1978 or ’79 the Tyngtown beautification committee made slides showing details of the Wilton downtown that were shared with the town, Hodgkins said.

In 1985 there were 22 flower boxes, she said.


Then the Lions Club took over the flower project, Hodgkins said. The cost was about $200 annually at that time, she said.

With the boxes empty and ugly in winter, Tyngtown got greens donated to fill them, Hodgkins said.

Betty Mitchell was involved with the greens project; Nancy Allen took that over, Cahn said.

“Patsy Sills was flower committee chair about 15 years ago. I took over in 2008 when she moved,” Cahn said. “Tom Saviello built boxes and replenished those that were falling apart.

“Wilton looked bad for awhile with few downtown businesses. The flowers in front of where Mario’s, Bradley’s were looked great.”

There are 12 Tyngtown ladies who water the flowers in June, July and August, Cahn said.


Individuals or pairs sign up for a week at a time, watering the flowers daily when needed, she said.

“It takes about 50 gallons of water, one gallon per box,” Cahn said.

Everything else is done by Cahn.

“I do the planting, fertilizing, cleanup, painting of the boxes,” Cahn said. “I decide the color scheme. I used Corey Black

Flowers at the Civil War Monument in Wilton were first planted by the Wiltona Club. Now the Tyngtown Club provides the flowers and their care. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

when she was selling, now I buy the plants from Robin’s Flower Pot. They’re healthy plants.”

Cahn plants mums at the Wilton Congregational Church and the Post Office at her own expense in the fall.


“Those places are important to me. The mums last until October,” she said.

“Betty Shibles and I were talking, looked into buying pots. It was about $1,000 for permanent pots,” Cahn said. “Betty’s dad owned a camp on the lake. He had seven or eight barrels he had used to roast pigs in. After Betty died, I went to the family and asked to put one of them downtown in her memory.

“They were all for it, but we couldn’t budge it. I got the town crew, they helped lift it into the truck. I painted it. It’s next to the Post Office.

“I call it “Betty’s Pot,” I think of her when I see it. Betty did a lot for the town. It was nice of the family to give up one of their pots.”

Cahn found a deal on pots in Portland. She purchased one and the town paid for the others, she said.

“The town empties the pots in the fall, takes them up and puts them out in the spring,” Cahn said.


“They’re so pretty right now,” Cahn said. “It gives me the feeling I’m giving back to the town I’ve lived in for 50 years. It’s such a pretty town.”

Cahn uses leftover plants from the Tyngtown plant sale in the garden along the Post Office and at Food City.

“I think people enjoy the flowers,” she said. “The flowers benefit the whole town.”

One lady gave Cahn a large donation towards the flowers.

“She said, ‘I just love the flowers. I won this money in a raffle, wanted to put the money to a good use,'” Cahn said.

Cahn was presented with the Mystic Valley Grange #313 Community Citizen of the Year award last June for her many years of service to Wilton, especially all her many hours of work each year as the chairperson of Tyngtown’s downtown flower committee.

“It’s amazing how far it [the flower project] has come, the compliments from the public,” Hodgkins said.

“Somehow we’ll have flowers next summer,” Cahn said. “They may not be as thick.

“It’s a good project.”

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