Kelley Barracks’ secret gardener revealed

It’s not that the garden area is in a secret location; it’s that it is an entirely volunteer effort by a community member just because. Photos by John Reese

Story by community member Rachel Alberstadt and John Reese, USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

When you walk to the Kelley Barracks Post Office, you’ll pass an incredible little garden outside of Bldg. 3313. Unbeknownst to most, this garden wasn’t planted, nor is maintained by, the garrison’s Directorate of Public Works; it’s the sole accomplishment of Stuttgart military community member Kay Hall.

Hall, who grew up in Montana, arrived in the community about a year ago. Without a home garden of her own, she created the one in front of her workplace. It is a delight of the building’s occupants and all who pass by. She buys the materials herself, does all of the planting, weeding and maintenance, and diligently waters the garden daily.

“When we moved here from Northern Virginia, we left a house with a  massive yard where I had a garden and lots of flowers.  While we love living in Stuttgart, we do not have a yard or space for growing things,” Hall explained. “When I saw our building, I saw potential with the  groundwork prepared through others over the years. It is grand that others enjoy it.  I am excited about fall foliage and mums.”

Nearby, past the picnic tables adorned with flowers, is a large bison statue placed by DPW after its home garrison was closed.

“To really make it a significant rally point, we are hoping to move an American bison statue from a forgotten corner of Kelley to an empty piece of soil in our picnic area (Buffalo Park),” Hall said. “Apparently, this bison was the mascot of the now-shuttered American high school in Mannheim.  Just like the school, this bison will remind everyone of something uniquely and impressively American–and my home, Montana.”

Hall is a veteran, civil servant and aspiring actress who recently performed in a couple of plays at the Kelley Theatre.

“I have been most fortunate to have played the quirky Biondella in ‘Taming of the Shrew’ and  the peculiar Cordelia Haversham in ‘A Course Acting Show,’ both directed by the celebrated Richard Roberts,” Hall said. “I relish the experience.”

And like the actual shrew, a tiny critter that eats insects and digs holes in gardens, Hall is experiencing a minor pest problem.

“Unfortunately, there are a few varmints that have taken up residency in the flower bed,” she said.

Hall’s garden spot has blossomed into something colorful and enchanting, changing design and fragrance with the seasons. It positively impacts community morale; her florals bring smiles to faces and delights visitors with a dignified elegance to Kelley’s appearance.

“I am most eager to see how the adjacent green space can be spruced up. It was once only a smoking area and now we have some picnic tables and potted flowers,” Hall described. “A lot of folks are enthusiastic about it.  DPW thinks (moving the bison statue) is possible, and those hard-working fellows have embraced the idea. We hope the park will encourage teammates to gather together.”

Her work, through sharing her hobby, is recognized and appreciated.