9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial Garden at Willow Rock Gardens

Delaware's First 9/11 Memorial Garden

Willow Rock Gardens LLC dedicated Delaware’s first 9-11 Memorial Garden to those who lost their lives in the attacks of September 11, 2001, their loved ones and the first responders who lost their lives that day and those who continue to risk their lives every day.

The Wilson Legacy lives on with the beautiful handmade columns of James Wilson and given to us by Julie Wilson. Julie Wilson has become a second mom, a mentor and with all this, I have a new family! Julie and her daughter, Janis have graciously helped this garden grow---- MUCH love to the Wilson family!

Creating a Memorial

In February 2002, Jim and Julie Wilson of Fort Edward, NY began work on a memorial garden. When Jim saw the rusty, pitted steel columns in the parking lot of an antique shop, he envisioned the twin towers of the World Trade Center (16 feet tall/ 350 pounds) and the third tower as the Empire State Building (14 feet tall/300 pounds) a symbol of strength . While Jim spent months refurbishing the towers, Julie designed the garden elements which included a water component, which translated into three channels of water, to represent the East River, the Atlantic Ocean and the Hudson River. The heart of the Wilson garden was the island of Manhattan, which had plantings that fit the theme of 9/11. During this time, they learned of the death of Lucia “Lucy” Crifasi, one of more than 3000 people who lost their lives that day, through a garden customer. This brought the loss closer to home. On July, 27, 2002 they dedicated the towers and memorial garden to the victims of 9/11. Several members of the Crifasi family attended and were presented with a daylily seedling named “Our Friend Lucy”

Sadly, Jim passed away in 2007, and Julie set about downsizing Fannicap Gardens. Julie wanted to preserve this memorial and did so by passing it along to Willow Rock Gardens LLC to be put on display in Delaware. Julie encouraged us to make the memorial our own, and in order to do this, we wanted to represent all sites of the terrorist attacks. The memorial that stands before you today, consists of the original 3 towers anchored in 2 feet of concrete. The towers surround a man-made mound that represents the hills of Pennsylvania where Flight 93 crashed. The daylilies on the mound are called the “Lost Souls” in honor of those who lost their lives and those who were never recovered. At the base of the mound is a small Pentagon shaped garden, with daylilies whose names fit the theme of this garden, and of course, Our Friend Lucy. 

With months of careful planning and last minute changes to the program, the 9-11 Memorial was officially dedicated on Saturday, June 13, 2012. The program began with Amanda Hotaling of Willow Rock, welcoming everyone, Dave Giglio read a poem entitled “IT RAINED THAT DAY” written by Willow Rock’s own Grace Rishell, THE PLEDGE OF ALLIGANCE was led by David Guleke, Regional President of the American Hemerocallis Society and President of Delaware Valley Daylily Society. The Keynote Speaker was Senior Senator Thomas Carper of Delaware, followed by Lewis D. Schiliro, Secretary of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Kevin Wilson, Trainer for Delaware Emergency Management Agency (bottom row, left) spoke of his memories of 9-11 and his experience with the Clayton Fire Company. Heather Hotaling of Willow Rock Gardens gave a closing statement and did a ribbon cutting with all the speakers and the towers first owners, Julie Wilson of Fort Edward, NY and her daughter Janis Murnane. Following the program guests were invited to walk the gardens The purpose of this event was to bring people together through not only a tragic event in America’s history but to also bring people together through a love of gardening. We welcome you to come and experience how far we have come as a Nation.