A rainy afternoon, rare of late, is a welcome change from the rainless days that have meant carrying water to the gardens. My first involvement with the Pocahontas gardens came last year with the installation of the landscape plants in the Heritage Center parking median (now called the Native Plant Garden). New plants in a new garden meant carrying water throughout the summer dry spells. Last fall the Rain Garden was installed in front of the Nature Center. Fortunately, rain gardens are designed to be moist, so no watering has been required there.
This past summer we learned that there are two gardens at the front of the Aquatic Center. Water was not a problem there, but neglect certainly was. Also during the summer we learned that work is needed on the Heritage Center building and consequently the plantings there needed to be rescued. As we debated where they could go, we discovered that there is a landscape garden at the CCC field. It, too, has been neglected. Just recently it has come to our attention that there is yet another landscape garden, this one beside the CCC Museum building (photo above).
All of these gardens, and one at the Eco-Camp Dining Hall, were installed with volunteer labor and the best intentions for beautifying the park, but without a clear responsibility for maintenance. Volunteer positions at the park include Gardener because the park does not have funds to hire for that position. None of the park’s currently registered volunteers have offered to take the position, so the Gardening in the Park Meetup was created as a way to get a handle on the landscape gardens and bring attention to their plight. We can always use another pair of hands to keep after the weeds and help manage the plantings. Contact Andrea, our Volunteer Coordinator, if you would like to be involved but the Meetup doesn’t work with your schedule.
The Friends monthly business meeting is a place where not only the ongoing business of the group is planned and organized, but also a place where ideas for new activities are spawned. A lament, expressed openly in the meeting, about the accumulation of small trash items in the public areas, led to a discussion of park staffing and responsibilities, and then to the idea of a new volunteer activity to deal with the problem. Members Matt and Rachel were willing to accept the challenge, and so the Micro-Trash Meetup was created.
A ramble around the picnic and pavilion areas shows how successful this meetup has been. Where there were cigarette butts, bottle caps, bits of plastic, and so on and on, these are now rare. Those who contributed their time to this effort can be proud of their accomplishment. This activity also spawned another idea, to provide the park with cigarette butt receptacles. That idea was matched with an opportunity to obtain a grant for park beautification. The grant application to Keep Virginia Beautiful was approved, so we will soon have the receptacles available to the smokers who visit the park.
Helping the smokers keep the park clean is a small step, but the need for micro-trash volunteers continues in all seasons. Check on Meetup for an opportunity to help, or just bring along a bag on your next visit to the park and spend a few minutes picking up litter where you find it.
With the help and direction of Alan Shey, Chesterfield County Environmental Engineering, three of us dug into the demonstration rain garden at the Heritage Center, weeding, cleaning and mulching. The garden catches, filters and infiltrates run-off from the parking lots, while providing a focal point for attractive native wildflowers. Alan expects to do a little more work on it over the winter, but for now it is ready for its annual winter rest. The Landscape Gardening in the Park volunteers will be monitoring it to keep ahead of those pesky "winter annual weeds" that are always ready to take advantage of an idle garden. --Ben