Much as we love growing and sharing blooms and blossoms, what I call Flower Philanthropy, there seem to be even bigger possibilities within the wider community. While the project described in an earlier previous post, Sharing a Bounty of Beauty has delighted many, I’ve always dreamed of making a small area between our property and the high school next door into a park.
Work day with Master Gardeners
My Vision of a Green Town
Although Yarmouth Maine’s newest park is small – approximately .25 acres – it is highly visible, and offers an unusual array of features. A grove of beech trees, impressive granite outcroppings, including one with a “river” of basalt running through it, and extensive perennial plantings offer a natural setting for a large colony of Jack-in-the-Pulpits, various ferns, and many other woodland wildflowers. This six month old park-in-progress has garnered much community interest, support, and appreciation, and the idea behind it – the old blooming-where-you-are-planted notion – suggests many possibilities.
The Freshman class of Yarmouth High School are now the stewards of this park.
First, let me tell you about how Rock River Park went from dreaming to digging. I went to our town’s head of Parks and Recreation and simply said, “I want to build a park.” With town permission, I got to work last fall thinning trees and tackling the honeysuckle and wild roses, no small task.
A Community + Partnerships = A Town Park
Because the site is at the corner of the town’s high school driveway, I wanted to involve students from the high school. Rock River Park is now officially under the stewardship of Yarmouth High School Spanish teacher Vicky Kahan’s freshman advisee group who have committed to this project for their four years of community service.
Generous financial support for the park has come through grants from the Cumberland County Master Gardener’s Seed Grant program and the Yarmouth Education Foundation. Yarmouth Community Services have provided a red horse chestnut and bench for the park’s open area.
Developing this park led me to apply to the Master Gardener Program. Alternate years, Maine’s Cooperative Extension Service MG program focuses on either ornamental horticulture or flower and vegetable gardening. This is the year for horticulture, and I am really excited – and yes, overwhelmed! – about everything that I’ve learned.
Now, building a park may seem an ambitious project, but in each and every town there are possibilities for public gardening. Maybe it is rejuvenating a forgotten or abandoned project such as a garden or walkway. Or perhaps it is an urn of flowers in front of a town building or senior citizen center, flowers for the library, or even sponsoring a “Trees Please” plant exchange. I’ll bet you have many, many more good ideas to share, any one of which could be a vibrant contribution to the community!
We know that this America IS beautiful, and I hope you’ll consider a Flower Philanthropy project in your town to brighten your corner of the country. In the hustle and bustle of our busy everyday lives, we all need the sight and scent of beauty.
Mary Webber, Master Gardener, Yarmouth, Maine