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Garden Fairies sow magic in Florida

  • Subject: [cg] Garden Fairies sow magic in Florida
  • From: Don Boekelheide <dboekelheide@yahoo.com>
  • Date: Sat, 16 Oct 2004 11:20:52 -0700 (PDT)

From the St. Petersburg (FL) Times, via Don B.,
Charlotte, NC:

_Garden Fairies sow love of communal planting_

A group of gardeners sponsors an Artistic Garden Tour
of yards at eight private homes that they helped
transform. Proceeds from the event will go toward the
creation of a community garden.
Published October 16, 2004

TARPON SPRINGS - To some, the 140- by 120-foot naked
plot of dark soil in Fred Howard Park may look a bit,
well, boring. But to the Garden Fairies, a group of
communal gardeners, it's black gold.

"We are very excited about having this much dirt,"
said Siobhan Nehin, queen of the fairies.

As she surveys the site of the future Community Global
Grow Garden, she sees a place of beauty, peace and
remembrance. She envisions adolescents learning to
propagate plants, neighbors without back yards
gardening and elders playing chess and checkers. She
imagines areas of shade, trellises for vertical
gardening and scent gardens.

But it will take more than fairy dust to make this
dream come true.

That is where Nehin and her flock of good fairies and
wizards come in.

On Oct. 24, the fairies are hosting an Artistic Garden
Tour where they will fling open the gates to eight
private gardens they have turned from drab to fab.

Tourgoers riding on buses will see painted and
stained-glass mosaic patios, sparkling stepping
stones, color-splashed spas, a large school of
ornamental metal fish, creative flower beds,
xeriscaping, butterfly gardens and all the native
plants the fairies dig.

Each stop will feature food from sun-baked areas such
as Greece, the Carolinas, the Caribbean, New Orleans
and Hawaii.

Demonstrations of some of the fairies' favorite
projects will be featured at every house. They include
artistic projects with metal, bamboo, mosaics, stained
glass, stencils and paint.

The six-hour tour ends with a tropical dessert buffet
and silent auction. Tickets are $45.

"We are hoping to raise $10,000 for the community
garden through the tour and private donations," Nehin
said. The garden is a joint project between Fred
Howard Park, the Garden Fairies and the Friends of
Howard Park, a group that supports the recreational
area through volunteer work and fundraising projects.

Friends president Bruce Snyder is married to Nehin.

The area designated for the community garden is near
the park's playground and butterfly garden. It was
once a retention pond, but when the park began using
reclaimed water, it no longer had a use.

"We brought in at least 100 dump trucks full of dirt,"
said Bob Zakrzewski, supervisor of Fred Howard Park.
"We leveled it off and cleaned it up. It has very
good, rich, dark soil."

Fifty-six garden plots will provide space for
neighbors and students to garden. A garden mentoring
program between Tarpon Springs high and middle
students is in the works.

Planners hope to sow seeds of global friendship as
student gardeners become virtual pen pals with student
gardeners from other countries, e-mailing each other
with digital photos of their gardens. The Tarpon
Springs Rotary Club is helping to pay for equipment,
including digital cameras and computers, to send to
developing countries for the project, Zakrzewski said.

Commemorative stained-glass stepping stones, available
for $200 each and engraved with names of loved ones,
will lead to a serenity garden. The Stained Glass
Studio of Clearwater has agreed to create the stones
and donate half of the proceeds to the Friends of
Howard Park for the project.

The Garden Fairies started six years ago when three
women, Nehin, 48, Barbara Melby-Burhans, 48, and Ruth
Bebensee, 55, met while windsurfing and discovered
their mutual interests in gardening and art.

They started pooling their talents, transforming their
gardens, and soon other fairies joined in. Now they
are firmly planted throughout Pinellas and beyond,
with about 150 fairies and a few wizards (men).

For them, weekends are spent sprucing up each other's
homes and yards and dreaming up creative mosaic and
stained-glass projects. During nice weather, many of
them windsurf. They have garden parties and march in
parades, proudly displaying their fairy costumes,
wings and all.

The fairies propagate the belief that the world is a
better place with tropical colors and lush gardens.

They are also committed to their community. They
helped plant 30,000 sea oats in Fred Howard Park in
February 2003 and have helped install large beds of
native plants at the Brooker Creek Preserve.

Similar garden tours have raised thousands for the
Country Day Montessori school in Largo.

At Howard Park, the fairies plan to transform an old
pump house near their site into a brightly hued tool
shed. They also plan to create teaching, propagation
and demonstration areas.

A white gazebo has been donated, but it will not be
that color for long. Instead, look for a gazebo likely
splashed with the hues of skies, sunsets, seas and

"When the Garden Fairies see something white," Nehin
said, "they paint it."

The Garden Fairies Artistic Garden Tour will take
place Oct. 24 with three start times: 8 a.m., 8:30
a.m. and 9 a.m. The six-hour tour begins at Fred
Howard Park and continues by bus through Tarpon
Springs, Crystal Beach and Indian Bluff Island in Palm

Tickets are $45 per person and include the tour, bus
ride, food and drinks. Tickets are on sale through
Oct. 23 and are available at Coast to Coast Real
Estate, 528 E Tarpon Ave. in Tarpon Springs. Call
(727) 937-0555. Ask for Rick or Carol Lehman. In
Dunedin, tickets can be purchased at the Painted
Fish/Clay & Paper Gallery, 350 Main St. Call (727)

Tickets also can be purchased by mail. Send a check
with number of tickets needed to: Friends of Howard
Park, Garden Tour Tickets, 1026 Anclote Drive, Tarpon
Springs, FL 34689. Include name, phone number and
address. Make checks payable to "Friends of Howard
Park." Indicate tour time preference.

In case of bad weather, the tour will be rescheduled
for Oct. 31. Tickets are nonrefundable.

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com

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