Pat Foster, the chair of Communities in Bloom, along with other volunteers, was out laying down new pathways and clearing blackberries and organic debris at the Rhododendron Memorial Park on Friday, April 20.
The expansion lies across the stream to the right of the already established pathways and the about-to-bloom rhododendrons that the organization has cared for over the last five years. Last year, volunteers cleared away the majority of the organic debris and this year they plan to finish the pathways and plant more rhododendrons along with wildflowers and possibly fall foliage such as Japanese maples. “The ferns are staying, but the blackberries are not,” says Edith Strocen, who has been a member of Communities in Bloom since about 2005. Along with Linda Hempworth, Strocen explained that nothing is written in stone, but the group has many ideas for what they could plant. From beauty and burning bush to Gogi berry and other edible berries there are many perennials the group can choose from.
Strocen says it has never been a groomed park and will remain slightly wild. They will leave the stumps and the ferns to add to the more natural look of the park. Strocen talked as she continued to rake out and flatten the gravel mixed with concrete that will harden over time and become easy to access pathways for wheelchairs, scooters, and strollers. The women joked as they worked, happy they were not hauling the gravel from a pile with wheelbarrows. Instead it was shot out of a sling truck and only had to be raked and packed into place.
Foster says that the funds for the park, including the printing of a new sign to be placed at the entrance located on W. Cowichan Ave., have come in part from a grant from the American Rhododendron Society and in part from funds raised by Communities in Bloom. At the time they were waiting for the approval of the town’s budget to receive funding that will go towards things like installing the new sign.
Eventually the group would like to place a bridge over the creek to connect the two sections of the park, but they are waiting to see if a donation of one comes along. “We are always looking for donations,” says Foster. And the group is always looking for volunteers. If you are interesting in becoming a member of Communities in Bloom, you can email Foster at email@example.com or give her a call 250-749-3730.
Rhododendron Memorial Park is open to anyone, and all are welcome to check out the newly expanded area as well.