October 29, 2010

Fall planting and the promise of spring

<Maria Toomey and 5-year-old Elizabeth dig holes for more than
100 bulbs at Pocket Park Thursday afternoon as members
of the Derry Garden Club prepared the municipal garden for winter.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- With the switching of seasons comes a changing of the guard at Pocket Park.
“We’ve got to put the garden to bed for winter,” said Derry Garden Club member Maria Toomey on Thursday. “But we’re preparing for spring.”
With her 5-year-old daughter Elizabeth and fellow garden club member Randee Martin, Toomey spent several hours on
 Thursday pulling up annuals at Pocket Park and planting bulbs that will bloom in the spring.
Elizabeth Toomey plants tulip bulbs at Pocket Park.
But the tulips, daffodils and allium flowers that will fill the garden next spring are relatively new additions to what has largely remained a traditional “municipal” garden since it was first built in 1998, Martin said.
A municipal garden, she said, is one that relies on larger shrubs and requires little maintenance. But for the past two years, Toomey and Martin, who co-chair the club’s civic beautification program, have been incorporating more flowers.
“Some use the old saying of ‘if it ain’t broke,’ and it’s been a beautiful municipal

Garden club member Randee Martin
 prepares the soil for planting.
 park,” Martin said. “But what we really want to do is add more color to it.”
And what started as buying a single flat of annuals has grown into an investment of several hundred dollars, she said.
Each year, the Derry Garden Club designates $1,000 for its civic beautification projects, which also includes maintaining gardens at the Marion Gerrish Community Center and Boys and Girls Club of Greater Derry.
Then club members volunteer on rotating

 shifts from June to September to water and weed the gardens. Between 15 and 20 people are responsible for the work at Pocket Park each year, Martin said.
And in fairness to volunteered time, Martin says she and Toomey try not to get too crazy.
“The gardeners really have appreciated the color of the flowers that we’ve brought into the area, but also have to come out to water, deadhead and weed,” Martin said. “So we have to find that proper balance.”
Toomey, who grew up in Charlestown, Mass., creating community gardens out of old city lots, said a public garden can make a real difference.
“We have a lot of elderly people that come by and say
 thank you for doing this,” Toomey said. “Some can’t do it on their own anymore, but they love to see this garden.” “I think it’s really a wonderful thing for the community,” she said. “We’ve been trying to change the world one bulb at a time.”

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