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.
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
I chatted a bit with a guy walking his dog on the Bright Hope Trail today. He recognized me as one of the volunteers working to remove wisteria, and he said he appreciated my efforts, admitting that it was not something he would care to do. Different strokes for different folks. Once in a while I'll get a "Thank you" when I'm working in the Native Plant Garden or the Rain Garden, so I know some people notice these things. It's not for everyone, puttering in a garden. People like to see at least some flower beds when they come to the park. What they may not know is that DCR State Parks doesn't have a big enough budget to support professional gardeners. Park staff depend on volunteers to make those flower beds presentable, and that provides an opportunity for those of us who do enjoy puttering in a garden to lend a hand. The need is there for more putterers, more hands. And the invitation to putter is out there on Meetup. If you are a garden putterer, I hope to see you in the garden at Pocahontas.