Donation to fund library’s new garden

Elsie Upchurch, of Front Royal, speaks during the children's garden groundbreaking ceremony Monday at Samuels Public LIbrary in Front Royal. Upchurch and her late husband funded $50,000 for the project. At rear holding shovels are Warren County Supervisor Dan Murray, Jr., county Administrator Doug Stanley, center, and Harry Kisner Jr., maintenance supervisor for Warren County Parks and Recreation. Rich Cooley/Daily
Elsie Upchurch looks over the plans for the new children's garden at Samuels Public Library in Front Royal on Monday. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Thanks to a $50,000 donation from Front Royal resident Elsie Upchurch, Samuels Public Library will be able to build a children’s garden.

For years, library staff members have talked about adding a garden, said Library Director Nicki McGuire Lynch. Now with funding from Upchurch, outdoor space at the East Criser Road library entrance will include a sensory garden, aromatherapy garden, butterfly garden and cook’s garden, and the hope of a teepee trellis, a giant chessboard and musical instruments.

“We’re excited about this opportunity,” Lynch said.

The garden will be named the Norman H. and Elsie Stossel Upchurch Children’s Garden, after Upchurch and her late husband.

A patron of the library for years, Upchurch said she decided to fund the garden after contacting Lynch to ask where her contributions might best be used.

“The library’s been something I’ve enjoyed throughout the years,” she said at Monday afternoon groundbreaking ceremony and reception. “I just wanted to do something for the library.”

After learning of the donation, the library formed a landscaping committee from staff, library board members Frank Baxter – a master gardener, local architect Fred Andreae and Warren County Maintenance Supervisor Harry Kisner Jr.

Other contributors include Lowe’s of Front Royal, Prosperity Landscaping, Trex, Warren County, the Warren County School Board and the Town of Front Royal.

Though Upchurch’s donation will fund many aspects of the garden, the library will accept other contributions for what it hopes will continue the whimsical and educational atmosphere. Additions community members might consider contributing are $200 for plant shrubbery, $500 for a tree, $700 for a giant frog statue, $850 for a giant turtle statue, $2,000 for a teepee trellis, $2,750 for tuned drums, $3,000 for griffin chimes, $3,000 for a life-size chess set and $3,500 for pagoda bells.

The garden will be the library’s first major addition, said Michal Ashby, supervisor of Children’s Youth Services.

“We have some really wonderful plans,” she said.

The four small gardens she has in mind will engage children in enjoying plants for how they look, smell, feel and taste. Because many plants have medicinal properties, she said the garden will be able to help interest children in the science behind flowers they might otherwise take for granted and give them a taste of herbs they might never have discovered before.

She said she hopes to include a planter in which children can dig and interactive garden art like wind chimes and a pergola where library visitors can sit and enjoy the garden.

As a supplement for science, history and art, she said, “I feel like a garden is the perfect place to do that.”

Samuels Library is located at 330 E. Criser Road, Front Royal. Contact the library at 540-635-3153.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or

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