Communities in Bloom volunteers are dedicated to town beautification

A dedicated group of plant and garden enthusiasts has big plans for the Town of Lake Cowichan's Rhododendron Memorial Park.

Lake Cowichan Communities in Bloom members Ingeborg Woodsworth

A dedicated group of plant and garden enthusiasts has big plans for the Town of Lake Cowichan’s Rhododendron Memorial Park.

“I love gardening, and I want the town to look nice,” Communities in Bloom chair Pat Foster said, following the group of nine members’ latest meeting, Thursday, January 27.

During the meeting, Foster presented her annual Chair’s Report, which highlights the group’s many accomplishments in 2010.

In this past year, Communities in Bloom contributed $300 each to AB Greenwell Elementary School and Palsson Elementary School, to help in their gardening efforts.

Through the group’s Heritage Days’ Hanging Basket Sale, which consists of baskets prepared by students, an additional $1,250 was raised for the two elementary schools, and the local Guides.

During the year, work parties were also held to clean up various gardens in town. The main project of the year was the town’s Rhododendron Memorial Garden, which saw over $500 in donated rhododendrons planted.

The group also hosted the successful Salmon and Mushroom Festival at the Lower Centennial Hall.

The group’s subsequent regular meeting outlined several goals for the coming year; mainly a repetition of last year’s accomplishments, with more of a focus on getting things moving at the Rhododendron Memorial Garden.

Located across the street from Community Services on Point Ideal Road, the Rhododendron Memorial Garden will be expanded all the way to the end of Cowichan Avenue, by Hans’ Butcher Shop.

Communities in Bloom will make use of volunteer time and hopefully a $5,000 grant from the Town of Lake Cowichan they’re applying for.

A few work parties are being planned for the year, in order to begin work on the expansion.

“This year will mainly be cleanup of the site,” Foster said, adding that there will also be work on expanding the garden’s path, which will include a bridge.

The site is quite a mess at the moment, Foster said. A nearby property owner fell a bunch of trees a couple years ago for firewood.

It was both dangerous, as he wasn’t an experienced faller, and a nuisance, in that it messed up the land Communities in Bloom plans on expanding onto.

Another large project for Communities in Bloom this coming year will be the planting of almost 2,000 bulbs.

Of the bulbs, 600 will go in a large planter that’s next to the Kaatza Station Museum’s locomotive, 200 are going into the town’s gardens, 200 into the road-side end of the Rhododendron Memorial Garden, 50 to the Ranger Station, 100 at the Trans Canada Trail Kiosk, and 50 at the Great Lake Walk sign.

The location of the remaining bulbs is yet to be decided, though some will end up in the Rhododendron Memorial Garden, Foster said.

The entrance to town will be avoided, as there’s an ongoing mite problem in that area that has a history of destroying bulbs.

The group plans on making some improvements to the annual Salmon and Mushroom Festival, this coming fall.

Although they report last year’s event being quite successful, they’d like to see things a bit more finely-tuned this time around.

Communities in Bloom members are currently working on a draft of criteria for vendors interested in setting up booths at the festival, in order to ensure there’s some solidarity in the event’s theme. There should be more food items, and less craft items, the group decided during their January 27 meeting.

They will also be looking into a larger space for the event, as some areas, such as the mushroom identification table, were quite crowded this past year.

There will also be more of an education component at this year’s festivities.

For more information on Communities in Bloom, call Pat Foster at 749-3730.

“Anyone’s welcome,” Foster said, of the group’s many activities.

“We really need the physical laborers.”

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