After a quiet Summer in 2020, the grounds crew was ready for some noise in the garden. We were fortunate to hire three AmeriCorps Interns for the summer of 2021. Each intern brought a plethora of experience, knowledge, and unique personalities that benefitted the gardens greatly. With the help of the Horticulture and Grounds Manager, Marissa Ashbeck, and many volunteers, the gardens have transformed. Along with all of their hard work and dedication, the interns createdAmeriCorps Volunteers projects that would benefit the operations and environment at the Gardens. Claire Butalla helped organize and implement the Kitchen Garden Produce Bag Sales, where she recorded planting dates and harvest dates to refer to when planning next year’s Kitchen Garden. Celeste Huff brought a Community Science Series called Pollinator Power to the gardens. She held workshops to explore different pollinator citizen science projects. Maya Desai investigated animal species at the Gardens by observing the wildlife with trail cameras. After collecting her data, she researched which wildlife was beneficial versus a nuisance to the Gardens and how to control the species.

We cannot thank our interns enough for their countless hours of caring for the gardens and connecting with the community that surrounds the gardens. With the help of our AmeriCorps Interns and volunteers, we have created some amazing new garden spaces for visitors to enjoy. The first project of the season was to revamp the front entry area into a display garden for the All-American Selections plant program. AAS winners are flowers and vegetables that have been “Tested Nationally & Proven Locally.” Each AAS entry is tested for superior garden performance by horticulture professionals across North America. When entering the front gate, visitors can check out different plant varieties that are AAS winners. We connected with Northcentral Technical College’s Welding Program to have welding camp participants create a fantastic tree sculpture for our new Wildflower Woods extension.

In the new area of the Wildflower Woods, we created a berm lined with red granite boulders using a method called Hugelkultur. This allowed us to use debris collected from clearing areas to build the mound and create an environment perfect for microbial decomposition of the material below the soil’s surface. As the development continued on the Gardens, we decided to expand our clearing and focus on another portion of the Meditation Garden. On the western portion of the pond, you will find new boulder seating areas and plantings that look over the pond. As Fall progresses, we will expand our developed garden spaces and maintain our existing gardens. We would not have been able to implement, install and maintain all of these new areas without the support of our staff, interns and volunteers.

Thank you for getting your hands in the dirt and helping us grow our roots!

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