October 17, 2015 was one of the best Saturday’s of the 2015 public gardening season.  At least for me that is.  It was the Prince Georges County Clean Up Green Up Day and this year our assistance came in the form of Girl Scout Troop #2269 out of Hemingway Memorial AME Church in District Heights, Maryland. I cannot tell you what a joy it was to have a truly Girl Powered Saturday morning, although we did have the assistance of our faithful Larnell Sharps from the District Heights Public Works Department, Commissioner Cynthia Miller with Mr. Miller by her side, Deborah Turner- District Heights Community Garden Program and Jonathan Medlock, jogger in passing, ever so willing to lend a helping hand.  It was a day that truly demonstrated OUR COMMUNITY AT WORK TOGETHER!!

A little about The Garden Coalition’s participation in the Prince Georges County Clean Up Green Up Program.  The City Manager, Dr. Sharla Crutchfield asked if this was something we wanted to participate in early Fall 2014.  The opportunity to plant and beautify with a purpose FOR a purpose was intriguing.  Giving back to my community is something I am passionate about. I thought it would be a terrific project for The Garden Coalition to get involved with, since our mission is to build community by creating an ongoing garden conversation, educating each other, going on garden adventures a well as beautifying where we live.

Our first Official Project for Clean up Green up Day 2014 was the Pollinator Project at the intersection of District Heights Parkway and Rochelle Drive. Prince Georges County offers a list of select plants, shrubs and trees, soil amendments and mulch to be used for planting projects in public spaces.  This program is offered to community associations, schools and municipalities. If you are planting trees, there is a mandatory tree planting clinic that is offered, as well as assistance from the Neighborhood Design Center.  A great program that promotes caring about and taking ownership of where you live. As long as this program is offered, The Garden Coalition will participate – it is the right thing to do that will help our Municipality become a colorful and vibrant pollinator magnet!!!

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Larnell got us started by digging the holes for the Virginia Sweet Spire (Itea Virginica), a native shrub that offers many good things for the garden.  It is easy to grow and is not picky about whether the soil is damp or dry, provides a great winter cover for wildlife, awesome fall color and the most important thing – the fragrant white flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators!!!  We are proud to be Protecting Our Pollinators here in District Heights, so we are very careful about the use of pesticides .  The Garden Coalition opts to use Best Management Practices when it comes to weed control by remaining organic…no chemicals here!!!  wpid-img_20151017_093158.jpg

Mr. Miller was busy laying out the pansies while we greeted Girl Scout Troop #2269 and gave them the marching orders for the day. Michelle Wiggins was putting on her gloves to get busy pinching blooms and planting pansies.wpid-20151017_094358.jpg

We started with the Girl Scouts pictured and the two Troop Leaders Michelle Wiggins and Kathy Frazier.  Throughout the morning, several Girl Scouts were dropped off and the newcomers just fell in line with the task at hand.  These Girl Scouts aren’t just ANY Girl Scouts, most of them are Honor students.  How awesome is that??  The Girl Scouts from Troop #2269 asked questions, put effort and muscle into the tasks they were assigned to do and did not fear getting dirty!!! #GIRLPOWER  Deborah Turner  and Kathy Frazier took two of the Girl Scouts to the Community Garden to install some bulbs and when done, Kathy Frazier and her team of Girl Scouts met us along the way.wpid-20151017_100129.jpg

Jonathan Medlock was jogging  throughout the neighborhood and paused to assist.  Instead of struggling to get the pots off of the plants, we just asked Jonathan to use his brawn and voila…he popped those shrubs out, while Mr. Miller gave his Shrub 101 lesson to our young ladies.  20151017_100117

I shared that all plants have a right face, so you might have to place it in the hole – no deeper than the it was in the pot – and step back to see if that is the “right face” of the plant. Just like we do in the mirror …putting our “right face” or “best face” on leaves a lasting impression as we go about our day.wpid-20151017_100136.jpg

Michelle Wiggins checked, double checked and then stepped back to see where more pansies could be added as an under planting to the mums that were already in place.  Great Job Michelle!!!!  When I looked last, those pansies were looking downright perky!!! The Girl Scouts added a light layer of mulch so that the color would be consistent and we were off to our other ‘Destination Beauty’ sites.IMG_20151017_110705

We proceeded to break up into two groups.  I took a few of the Girl Scouts to the Clock Tower to plant pansies and daffodils .  I hope we did not miss a spot!!!  If so we know where we need to fill in next Fall with more daffodils. Prince Georges County donated a bag of 50 large cup daffodils for Clean Up Green up Day.20151017_112845

The seond group of us went to plant the two Redbuds (Cercis canadensis) and two Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) in a protected area that would be ideal for understory trees and shrubs that can handle dappled but bright light.  Under the watchful eye of Super Girl Scout, this task was completed in record time allowing us to maintain our tight schedule. Finally we met at our Pollinator Project on District Heights Parkway and Rochelle Drive.   wpid-20151017_114501.jpg

This site is special as we are growing a Pollinator Park. As we expand the garden, we will remove the turf.  Little by little we would love to incorporate a small, simple water feature so our pollinators can pause and have a drink, a bench or two for our residents to pause, a Labrynth so we can walk in peace with our Pollinators and most importantly, a diverse collection of plants that will help bring beneficial insects, bee’s and butterfly’s to District Heights. We want our pollinators to know that we care and we are here to provide what we can.  This is why we are not cutting back our existing plant material in this bed until Spring 2016.  One thing we KNOW is – the best thing we can do for our Pollinators is to provide a habitat for them to be protected in over the winter months.  Leaving the season’s finishings (as I like to call it) provides cover as well as food for pollinating insects as well as allowing seeds of wanted plant material to fall naturally in the landscape and create more plants.  In this bed we have asclepius speciosa, coreopsis, echinacea, a small buddleia/butterfly bush, daisies, lavender, ornamental grasses, ironweed and numerous other beneficial pollinator plants as well. Donations from the Silver Spring Garden Club and assorted friends have helped immensely as we are creating this bed from our hearts. We have our designation as a SHARE ( Simply Have Areas Reserved for the Environment) project from http://www.pollinator.org so you can see we are passionate about our pollinators!!!wpid-20151017_122921.jpgWe added a Crepe Myrtle, 2 Itea Virginica, as well as daffodils in a small area that will prove to be manageable as we will spend the winter eradicating the grass at this spot and making that “hell strip” a beautiful mixed border. The District Heights Community Garden donated the Crepe Myrtle, a few Daisies and Perovska (Russian Sage).  I think we will definitely be expanding this bed, incorporating our oublic art project/labrynth and creative pathways so that our residents can enjoy nature, up close and personal as we demonstrate what to plant that is drought tolerant in the District Heights area of Prince Georges County.

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Kathy Frazier and I finished prepping the daffodil bed as the Girl Scouts mulched and watered what we planted and prepared to end our fantabulous morning.IMG_8587

We ordered pizza and iced tea, cleaned  up our debris and set off to enjoy the rest of a beautiful autumnal Saturday. Thank you to all who helped make this day happen from the depths of our hearts to the tips of our green thumb. THE GARDEN COALITION IS ALL ABOUT GETTING IT DONE!!!

THANK YOU GIRL SCOUT TROOP #2269

FOR MAKING OUR CLEAN UP GREEN UP A SUCCESS!IMG_8594

Thank you to all of the participants who helped make our Pollinator Park a reality and the bridge to connecting all facets of our community!!!

If you would like to participate in building UP our community, contact me at the following email address, thegardencoalition@gmail.com.

If you would like to help us acquire some of the needed items to make this park a reality, email me at thegardencoalition@gmail.com.

If you just want to be a part of it all, email me at thegardencoalition@gmail.com. Watch our gardening conversation grow!!

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