Friday, April 30, 2010

Where Did THAT Garden Come From?

New garden goes in at the yet-to-be-named park
Why, your friendly neighborhood volunteers installed it, of course.

Last Saturday, a team of over a dozen volunteers from Arlandria and surrounding neighborhoods came together and got started on a host of projects. This was the 2nd annual Arlandria Spring Clean-Up and Gardening Day!

The number one initiative was to install a large garden at the open space property at the corner of West Reed and Commonwealth Avenues, acquired by the City just last year. The garden came together using plants gleaned from backyard gardens, generously donated by local residents. In total, our generous neighbors contributed 13 shrubs, dozens of perennials, a sapling, and ornamental grasses... and there's at least one ornamental tree and a bunch of liriope yet to plant! So, for this coincidentally Earth Day weekend event, volunteers used donated plants, composted leaves from last Fall's leaf pick-up, and mulch from shredded Christmas trees. And all of it was hauled to the site in borrowed trucks. Sod removed from the site was used by some neighbors in their own backyards.

Volunteers were slowed but not deterred by ground that could double as concrete. While everyone went home in need of some Icy-Hot for their aching backs, they left with a sense of accomplishment. See the following progression of photos that take the park from weed patch to garden:

From an overgrown patch of grass...
Step 1: Gather the troops and begin removing the sod (the sod cutter is the red machine in the picture)

Step 2: Cut under the sod and roll it up
Step 3: Haul it away to clear the site

Step 4: Try like heck to make a hole in the rock-hard ground

Step 5: Mix in municipal composted leaves to bring some nutrients to the soil

Step 6: Plant donated shrubs in donated top-soil

Step 7: Repeat... repeat... repeat...

Step 8: Add a host of perennials

And you wind up with a 700 sqft patch of garden to be proud of.

Look for more enhancements to come.

Another task from Saturday was cleaning up the vacant lots on Mount Vernon Avenue that are slated to expand the 55-acre Four Mile Run park. The properties had been ignored by parks staff and were badly in need of a once over. While the majority of the team focused on the Reed Avenue garden, a second group weeded and re-mulched the garden at the entrance of 4MR, trimmed some out of control street trees, and cleaned up junk on the site.

Lastly, back at the Reed Avenue site, the haggard screening trees that used to block the power substation were thinned out for aesthetics and to prevent them from blocking a clear view for the police. Trees that were strangling each other now have some room to grow and thrive.

Once again, Campbell and Ferrara Garden Center in Annandale donated mulch to the cause. Home Depot also contributed enough to get about 20 bags of top-soil that will hopefully keep the new plants growing strong. Many thanks to the management of both establishments!

Many thanks to our generous neighbors, as well! Your donated plants made it all possible. Please continue to let us know if you have plants you're dividing or otherwise getting rid of. We'll continue to enhance our existing gardens and create new green spaces with whatever we get!

Lastly, thanks to the volunteers for all the backbreaking work. Future clean-ups to prep the site for a market will follow, so stay tuned. But this was a big step towards improving Arlandria open space.
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