If you’ve lived in the Village of Glen Carbon long enough, you’ve probably seen Wendy Reinacher-Heilig, the village gardener, in one of the many parks and common spaces, working her horticulture magic around town.
From the hanging planters along Main Street to the pocket parks and more, Reinacher-Heilig works diligently to add colorful vibrancy to the Village with beautiful flowers, plants and landscaping.
Joining the Village staff in 2006, Reinacher-Heilig truly enjoys her role in Glen Carbon and the opportunity that allows her to bring her love of gardening to life.
Wendy Reinacher-Heilig learned about the village gardener position opening from a friend and immediately applied. When hired 17 years ago, she had a one-year-old baby girl and had recently become a widow. The position with the Village of Glen Carbon offered her the opportunity and benefits her family needed, along with the ability to do work that she loved. “I will forever be grateful to the person that told me about the job opening,” said Reinacher-Heilig.
Prior to joining the Village, she worked for five years at Garden Kingdom in Glen Carbon. Reinacher-Heilig started her role there to complete intern requirements for an associate degree in applied science and horticulture from Belleville Area College. She also has an associate of art degree from the university. At Garden Kingdom, she was involved in all aspects of the day-to-day operations, including plant ordering, inventory, customer service and even loading mulch.
When asked about her favorite part of her role with the Village, she said that she looks forward to planting containers and hanging baskets that decorate Main Street during the warmer months. “I like to use different color schemes every year and keep up with what’s trending in the plant world,” said Reinacher-Heilig. Something residents may not know makes this process even more special. She adds, “I’m very proud that 80% of the flowers planted in the Village each year are grown from seeds I plant and tend to from the Village greenhouse.”
Of course, there are challenges that come with any job, and the beautification of the Village can be a big undertaking. “The worst part is keeping up with the weeds while using the least amount of chemicals possible,” said Reinacher-Heilig. At times, the lack of seasonal help can also make it difficult to maintain every greenspace in the Village on her own. Today, she has an assistant that has really helped with the landscaping and her ability to stay dedicated to ongoing upkeep and maintenance.
Over the years, Reinacher-Heilig has many fond memories while working in the Village. “It never fails, but I will be working outside during one of the hottest days of the summer, wondering if I can go on, and a resident will walk by me or literally stop in the middle of the road to tell me how good the flowers or landscaping looks and that I’m doing a great job. When that happens, it lifts my spirits and makes the adversity (and the heat stroke) worth it,” she laughed.
Wendy Reinacher-Heilig not only serves the Glen Carbon community, but also the town of Grantfork where she currently resides. She is on Grantfork’s board and her love of plants and gardening has carried over to their community as well. She has gardens at home and takes care of a few landscaping areas around Grantfork.
Reinacher-Heilig is also the president of the Grantfork Historical Society and serves on the Madison County Fair Board as the Superintendent of the Floriculture Department. She also spends her free time dirt track racing and enjoys “junkin’”; Reinacher-Heilig has booths in three different area flea markets and antique malls.
About the Village of Glen Carbon
The Village of Glen Carbon is a thriving community in Madison County, Ill., with a vision for progress while paying homage to its rich, historical roots. Village administration can be reached by contacting their office at (618) 288-1200. You can also learn more about The Village of Glen Carbon at www.glencarbonil.gov or follow the Village on their Facebook and LinkedIn pages.