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Windsor, ONT: Youth Community Gardening

  • Subject: [cg] Windsor, ONT: Youth Community Gardening
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 12:33:28 EDT

By SUE SMYSER, Features Writer  Wednesday, June 30, 2004 10:40 AM CDT

Great gardens don't just bloom on their own. It takes time and effort to fight weather, weeds, clay, sand, pests and fungus to make it a reality.

But some youth groups in Windsor have discovered that all that hard work pays off.

From a mass of overgrown chrysanthemums and a clump of tangled tree roots, a pleasing garden site has emerged in front of the Community Building in Windsor.

Likewise, when a building was razed next to City Hall and the vacant lot left the downtown Windsor area looking less than appealing, a master garden took its place.

Thanks to the efforts of several 4-H members, some of whom are Junior Master Gardeners, the downtown area is now inviting to residents and visitors alike.

Two things happened to make the projects come together.

The Friendship, Achievement and Recreation 4-H'ers and the Windsor Guys and Gals 4-H'ers each received grant money from the 4-H Community Improvement Program to do the projects. In addition, the Windsor Civic Improvement group also provided some financial help.

In the garden near City Hall, junior Master Gardeners and the Windsor Guys and Gals 4-H'ers went on a massive beautification drive.

"We started with bare dirt where the building was demolished. The other garden (by City Hall) had some plants that were already established," Karyn Cole, Guys and Gals 4-H leader, said. Peggy Beck is also a leader.

All of the youngsters worked together, dug in the dirt, planted and pulled weeds. Some of the mothers also got involved with the project, spreading mulch, pulling weeds and planting perennials.

Their club benefitted from having Junior Master Gardeners as members. Last year eight of the Guys and Gals 4-H'ers were also Junior Master Gardeners.

"This year four or five have exceeded the age to be a 4-H member, but four or five members are still Junior Master Gardeners," Cole said. "Several members of our club have an interest in horticulture."

Benches invite visitors to the garden to relax and admire the flowers, while a trail leads explorers down a blossoming pathway.

The Guys and Gals also planted a garden area near the memorial at the Windsor Park.

The gardens are filled with hostas, coneflowers, lamb's ear, Palace Purple Heuchera, Shasta daisies, coreopsis and many other plants.

The area in front of the Windsor Community Building was planted several years

ago, but many of the plants, such as chrysanthemums, were too big and bulky, and the garden in general needed renovated.

Karen Smith, Jane Storm and Terry Prasun, leaders of the FAR 4-H Club, began working in the fall of 2002 by planting 120 bulbs among the existing perennial foliage to bloom in the spring.

Club alumni member Emily Smith was a recent graduate of the Southern Illinois University horticulture department. She agreed to develop the landscape plan. She helped decide what existing plants should be removed, relocated, divided or left in place.

On a cold and blustery Saturday in early April 2003, they began. Club pictures show girls' hair flying in the wind.

They dug, clipped, piled and raked, Karen Smith said. They placed potted plants, stepping stones and mulch.

The site is primarily shaded because of buildings and a large tree nearby that competes for space with the main road, sidewalk and garden area.

"The biggest challenge was the roots from the tree and then finding sand when we cleared the area," Karen Smith said.

This year the hard work has paid off; the garden glows with color and appeal.

"We got some 'thank-yous' from people and groups in the community," she said.

4-H'ers from small to big, helped. Gannon Croy lives on a farm and had experience in growing vegetables and helping in the fields, but flower gardening was new to him, he said.

Nicole Storm has been in 4-H for several years and helped the smaller children with some of the tasks.

"Zach Storm is a little guy and he had to get on the shovel and jump to get it in the dirt," she said.

Lacey Splittorff also helped, although she admitted that she doesn't like digging in dirt.

"Last summer was my first attempt at gardening," she said. "I don't like to get my hands in dirt. My hands haven't been the same since, but I think it's (the garden) beautiful."

Contact Sue Smyser at ssmyser@jg-tc.com or call 238-6864.

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