Whether you’ve strolled across the Bridge of Flowers one time or thousands of times, there’s no doubt you felt the heartbreak of the Bridge’s closing last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Thankfully, life is moving on and the Bridge is once again open to its fans! As of June 1, 2021, the Bridge of Flower’s gates were opened for all to enter and surround themselves with the lovely flowers, vines, and blossoming trees that span the bridge.
The Bridge of Flowers was once a trolley bridge, which became outdated when automobile usage increased and freight was more frequently transported across the Deerfield River using the nearby Iron Bridge. The trolley company went bankrupt in 1927, leaving the trolley bridge covered in weeds, unable to be demolished since it carried the water main between the two towns. In 1929, Antoinette Burnham proposed the idea of converting the bridge into a garden and the Shelburne Falls Women’s Club sponsored the project.
For almost a century the bridge has hurdled challenges such as deterioration and flooding due to Hurricane Irene in 2011. However, the community has always stepped up for the bridge and pulled together efforts to raise funds to maintain the bridge and see to it that the plants were always cared for. To this day, the Bridge of Flowers remains a volunteer-run, donation-based project.
Head Gardener, Carol Laliberte DeLorenzo has held her position for the last 20 years, organizing the other volunteer gardeners, known as the Blossom Brigade. Along with her assistant, Elliston Bingham, Carol has made her gardening visions for the bridge a reality. This was made possible through monetary donations from supporters and friends of the Bridge, and through the hundreds of hours spent annually by the Brigade, planting, watering, and weeding the bridge in the early morning hours before the bridge becomes filled with visitors.
If you’re lucky enough to live in the village of Shelburne Falls, you might walk across the Bridge of Flowers on a regular basis, on your way to grab a coffee at Mocha Maya’s, or to pick up some groceries from McCusker’s Market, or maybe it’s part of your daily commute to work. If you’re traveling from farther away, the Bridge of Flowers could be the purpose of your visit, or just the cherry on top to your experience in such a lovely place. Either way, we are all grateful to have the Bridge of Flowers back into our lives this summer. Let’s all show our appreciation by making a donation, either small or large, to the Bridge’s donation box at our next visit or on their website, bridgeofflowersmass.org, and let’s see this magical garden over the river survive another century and more.
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Photo Credit: Bridge of Flower's Facebook Page