Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Arboretum Patron Carol Thielke Dies

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Arboretum Patron Carol Thielke Dies

Article excerpt

Carol Thielke, a community volunteer and master gardener who spearheaded the rehabilitation of the arboretum in Glen Rock that now bears her name, died Monday at her borough home. She was 91.

The 11-acre woodland off Doremus Avenue was scruffy, overgrown and strewn with litter a quarter-century ago. "It was like a rough- cut diamond," Mrs. Thielke recalled in a 2007 interview. "There were things to see, but there was no definition as to what was there. It was just wild."

Originally overseen by a subcommittee of the Glen Rock Garden Club, the arboretum in 1994 was placed under the purview of a non- profit Mrs. Thiele created, Friends of the Glen Rock Arboretum.

She marshaled the volunteer forces that cleaned up and improved the borough-owned forest, which today has manicured trails, plantings, a gazebo surrounded by commemorative bricks and a spring- fed pond with fountain.

Master gardeners and laypersons continue to log thousands of volunteer hours a year there. Civic and school groups hold education programs at the arboretum, which was renamed Thielke Arboretum in 2009.

"Carol's personality was such that when you were talking to her about the arboretum, the next thing you knew you were in the arboretum pulling weeds," said Tom Vielbig, president of the Friends group.

Walter Perry, whose family owns Perry's Florist & Gardens in the borough, said the arboretum was an underused resource before Mrs. Thielke made the project her own.

"Carol decided that she would enhance the arboretum one weed, one perennial, one plant at a time," Perry said, adding that the persuasive Mrs. Thielke was skilled at getting others excited and involved.

"She made the arboretum a canvas by which people could express themselves," Perry said. "If you were good at biology, you had a place there. If you were good at gardening, you had a place there. …

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