Flowers that speak of compassion after loss

April 26, 2017

By Lois Barber

“The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?” Buddha

Some beauty and goodness have risen from the ashes of the tragic home invasion and fire which took place in Cheshire, CT, in July of 2007. Although nothing could ever replace the three beautiful lives that were lost, The Petit Family Foundation was formed and dedicated to helping others, as the Petit women had done. The Foundation aids victims of violence, gives scholarships to women studying science (older sister Hayley was to start premed at Dartmouth in the fall), and helps patients with chronic illness (mother Jennifer had MS). In memory of the younger sister, Michaela’s Garden Project was started. After the fire, William Petit asked his brother-in-law to go to what remained of the house, and dig up some plants to be relocated to his new home. Among the plants that were transported were the four o’clocks Michaela had planted. The seeds from those plants were harvested and distributed to Boy Scouts and other volunteers, and their harvested seeds were in turn donated back. Michaela’s Garden Project now sells seeds, all descendants of the original plants, in packets of 25 to anyone who would like to grow four o’clocks to help raise funds for their mission. Because the seeds come from various growers and are mixed before repackaging, there is no way of knowing what color four o’clocks you will get. Recipients who grow Michaela’s flowers are asked to keep some seeds from them for themselves, but to mail back some seed to be repackaged to help raise funds. All directions about growing and harvesting seed are mailed with each purchase. Packets sell for $5 for seeds, plus $2 for shipping. To order a packet, you can mail a $7 check made payable to “Petit Family Foundation” to Petit Family Foundation, 32 Whiting Street, Plainville, CT 06062. Discounts are given for 8 or more packets. To buy seeds: <$>Visit and follow link to “Seed Packets.” Details: <$>860-479-1436.

Lois Barber writes and takes photographs for a weekly gardening column for the Republican-American newspaper in Waterbury, CT.