Sowing Seeds Award
This year there is a new addition to our existing Tree of Knowledge program, which for the past eight years has involved presenting a young potted native tree at graduation to every kindergarten student from the three local schools, along with instructions for planting and caring for it. This year’s tree is an Eastern Redbud. Thanks to a partnership between Athens Garden Club, the Friends of Athens Public Library and the schools, we will present one additional tree to each kindergarten class, to be planted by the students with their teacher on the school grounds. At the same time a picture book about planting trees, donated by the Friends of the Library, will be presented to each class for the students to read with their teacher, as part of an instructional unit on growing plants. In this way, the gift of a tree to each student at graduation will be even more meaningful.
Recently 4 of us attended the Spring District 3 meeting of the Ontario Horticultural Association. There are 16 clubs within our district which includes Frontenac, Hastings, Leeds/Grenville, Lennox & Addington and Prince Edward counties. This year our Club was presented with their Sowing Seeds Award for this innovative youth program. Ursula Quantz has been the driving force behind this program, each year selecting the tree, potting and babying the120 plus trees so they remain healthy for the students then coordinating the distribution. I would like to call on Ursula as this award really belongs to her. Well deserved. Hers to keep for the year.
Donna Washburn (Co-President)
2015 Memory Garden: Various Photos
Shades of Green: A Memory Garden
The Garden Club launched its first community project in May, 2003. In partnership with the Township of Athens Community in Bloom Committee, a demonstration shade garden was created on public land adjacent to Township Hall, with a huge maple tree as focal point. A wooden bench, a bird bath, and perennial plants were donated by members. Shrubs were purchased through a collection taken at a Garden Club meeting.
Begun as a demonstration shade garden, the focus of the garden changed after the maple tree developed a crack and was felled by the municipality in April, 2004. The tree had been the last survivor of eleven maples originally planted around Township Hall to commemorate the supreme sacrifice made by eleven ‘Athens boys’ who died in the Great War of 1914-1918. Where the maple had stood, a volunteer team of club members erected a sundial, donated by a Club member, and created a circular rose garden around it, which they planted with eleven ‘Hope for Humanity’ roses.
In June, 2005, the garden was formally opened by the mayor of Athens and a sign bearing the name of the garden, designed and donated by Keith Heine of Heritage Signs, was unveiled. On Remembrance Day, 2006, a black granite memorial bearing the names of the eleven soldiers was unveiled and the garden was dedicated to their memory by Padre Blair Ross, NFB Kingston, at a moving public ceremony in which family members of the soldiers participated.
As trees along the garden boundary have matured, the garden has become shady once again. In 2012 the roses, by now struggling, were removed and the central flower bed now features Spring-flowering bulbs and summer annuals. The garden continues to be maintained by members of the Club.
Dancy Park Tree Planting, 2004
In April 2004, the club sponsored a four-session workshop series, open to all members of the community, entitled ‘Take Time for Trees’. As a sequel to the course, participants created an earth berm and planted twelve pine and spruce trees in Dancy Park, a previously featureless rectangular area of mown grass. Thirty shrubs, including willow, highbush cranberry and red twig dogwood, were also planted in the park. The construction of the berm involved moving more than 30 tonnes of topsoil by wheelbarrow about 80 meters across the park – during the wettest Spring conditions experienced for many years! A decade later, the coniferous planting has matured and the shrub plantings have naturalized, offering shelter to a variety of wildlife. Both are appreciated by residents in the adjacent seniors’ apartment building.
‘Albert’s Gardens’ Climate Change Project, 2005-2008
In October, 2005, a group of volunteers from the club planted 300 ‘Red Emperor’ tulips, provided by the National Capital Commission, at the Cenotaph flower bed in Memorial Park, Athens, as participants in a project to assess climate change. Eleven horticultural societies in the region planted the same number of the same kind of tulip during the same week. Students from Athens District High School recorded specific information daily in 2006, 2007 and 2007, during the growth cycle of the tulips. The data from all sites was analyzed by Mississippi Field Naturalists, as part of a study named for Albert, a Lanark County gardener who observed the spring growth of plants in his garden.
Athens District Health Center Garden, 2008
During 2007 and 2008, the Athens District Health Centre building was renovated and extended. On completion of the work, Athens Garden Club and Township of Athens Community in Blooms teamed up to jointly fund, design and plant a new garden at the front of the building. The garden was planted with shrubs and perennials in the fall of 2008. The plantings have thrived and the attractive setting is much appreciated by staff and clients of the Health Centre, which maintains the garden.
Athens District Public Library Garden
In 2008, Athens Garden Club initiated the creation of a new garden in front of Athens Public Library, a heritage stone building which was formerly Front of Yonge Township Hall. The Club is grateful for the assistance of the O.H.A. which awarded a grant of $500.00 towards costs of this project.
In October, 2008, a contest was announced, open to area residents as well as members of the Club, to select a design for the garden. Design criteria included low maintenance demands; water conservation and drought tolerance; use of native plants; re-cycling; and food and shelter for beneficial insects and birds. A panel of judges chose the best three designs entered in the contest, which were then displayed at the Library during March, 2009, so that members of the public could vote for their favorite design. The winner was Athens Garden Club member, Terri Olivo.
During the summer of 2010, flower beds and a walkway were constructed and a tree, shrubs and Spring-flowering bulbs were planted, and the beds mulched. Perennials and decorative features, including benches, birdbath, bird-feeder and trough gardens, were added to complete the garden in Spring, 2011. The garden is maintained by volunteers from Athens Garden Club.
Athens Community Food Garden
Athens Garden Club’s latest garden is a team project involving a partnership between the Club, Athens District High School, Athens District Food Bank and the Municipality of Athens, which has supplied the site on municipal property adjacent to the Works Garage. The Club coordinates the project. The idea was sparked in 2013 by a group of students and developed in 2014 to increase access to fresh produce at the Food Bank.
Students taking the school’s Outdoor Education course, led by the two teachers of the course, fenced, prepared, planted and tended the plot, with volunteer assistance from an expert gardener. After school ended in June, community volunteers, coordinated by a Garden Club member, took over for the rest of the season. A different individual, couple or family took responsibility for the care of the garden for one week. Produce was harvested weekly and delivered to the Food Bank, where it was greatly appreciated by clients.
Support for the project has been enthusiastic and the Garden Club and its partners are looking forward to continuing it in 2015.