Out of tragedy rises beauty. The front of the clubhouse at the Ned Dimes Marina -- where only a few shrubs grew earlier this year -- has been transformed into a vibrant garden that memorializes the vital life of Charles Lucas.

More than 30 people came together Oct. 8 to finish the plantings.

"You felt like you did a good thing at the end of the day," Westport Garden Club President Lori Meinke said of the project.

Lucas, 58, died in a boating accident off Compo Beach 16 months ago. An avid runner, he was also an enthusiastic gardener. Some of the perennials planted in the memorial garden came from Lucas' garden. His wife, Katie, and son Charlie were among those who got their hands dirty in creating the garden.

Most of the volunteers were from the Lucas family or friends. However, a half-dozen garden club members assisted on the big planting day. Others helped in advance with prep work, while Angela Trucks contributed the design for the garden.

"It really could not have been smoother," Meinke said. "Many hands made light work, but it wasn't light work. There was a lot to do, but it went smoothly because there were so many people helping who were eager to put this project together."

Long before the planting work, town Parks and Recreation Department employees had removed much of the old brush and provided topsoil for the new garden spanning the length of the clubhouse. Topsoil was also laid down on each side of the sidewalk leading to the clubhouse entrance. Plants will be added to the area in the spring, and a bench and plaque memorializing Lucas will also be set there.

Plantings adjacent to the clubhouse include yellow magnolia, hydrangea, cypress, grasses and a variety of perennials, as well as a Rose of Sharon shrub from Lucas' garden. Rocks were also incorporated into the garden for architectural interest.

Katie Lucas said of the garden makeover: "It's a wonderful legacy and tribute to my husband. My hope is that people go down and enjoy it as it grows and blossoms."