As temperatures continue to drop, gardeners know planting season has arrived.
Volunteers spent the summer looking at the overgrown tangle of greenbrier vines behind Harlem's City Hall and saw what it could be - a colorful garden.
Now that the fall planting time has come, those volunteers transplanted flowering plants and trees into the space to strengthen over the winter for a showy spring display.
After several large, century-old oak trees were cut down because of disease, Ann Blalock gathered volunteers to convert the brushy area into a Monet-type garden.
"We want color for all seasons," Blalock said about the newly designated Harlem Memorial Garden.
Pioneer Garden Club members Jack Hatcher (left) and Cindy Hamblin separate lariope to plant along walkways through Harlem's memory garden.
Photo by Valerie Rowell
In fact, many of the plants in Claude Monet's gardens in Giverny, France are indigenous to this area, including larkspur, sunflowers and coneflowers, Blalock said.
The project, headed by Blalock and the Pioneer Garden Club, is a partnership between volunteers and the city of Harlem.
City officials paid for the site to be cleared and tilled. After that, it was up to Blalock and other volunteers to make the transformation with donated plants and funds.
Each plant will be labeled with its name and, if desired, the name of a person whose memory the plant donor wishes to honor, Blalock said.
"Anyone you want to donate a plant in memory of, you can," Blalock said. "They don't have to live in Harlem."
Four volunteers - Blalock, Jack Hatcher, Cindy Hamblin and Millie Reeves - started planting earlier this month after much planning.
"You can have it all drawn out on paper and once you get to the site, there are a few things that need to be fine-tuned, like starting over," Blalock said jokingly.
During an all-day site preparation and planting stretch, the four volunteers lined the mulch pathways with lariope and settled ginger lilies, purple irises and oleander, and dogwood, sugar maple and goldenrain trees into their new homes. A local Cub Scout troop stopped by the next to help spread mulch.
Even though the first round of planting is complete, the garden has plenty of room for additions. Donated plants will be accepted, except those that are invasive or will require more than regular tending.
Some are already impressed with the change.
"It was all greenbrier weeds and nasty," Harlem Mayor Scott Dean said. "(Now) it looks incredible. The great thing is it's a community effort - the Pioneer Garden Club, individual donors and the city all working together."
All of the stumps from the large oak trees are being left in the garden for rest areas as well as educational tools for children to look at and determine the trees' ages, Blalock said.
Volunteers hope to add a rustic but durable fence around the garden and to reform pathways in a permanent material.
For more information or to make a monetary or plant donation, call Blalock at 556-6656.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.