What are you doing with your business, church group, or your non-profit group? Have you considered gardening in a public garden?
The City of Woodlake has way more work than they can handle caring for the fourteen acres that is Woodlake Botanical Gardens. The founders, Manuel and Olga Jimenez and their non-profit, Woodlake Pride Coalition, manage all but the three acres designated as Woodlake Rose Garden. That Garden is divided into small sections and several groups have reached out to support it.
This little neglected area is about a third of the way along the Garden path. I probably should have counted the number of roses before I volunteered to adopt it, but I’m impetuous. With some community help, I think it’s doable.
There are probably about fifty roses on the property, several pomegranate trees and about 20 Rose of Sharon bushes and several clumps of overgrown Pampas grass. The tree front and center is a mystery to me.
What prompted me to adopt the garden is that it’s time to prune roses in CA. This is as cold as it gets, and you can still see roses in bloom on the bushes.
The Master Gardeners lead the way with their work in the Floribundas. Last year they held a training workshop at the Garden, and we have another one scheduled on January 25 from 11:00 – 2:00. It’s a great opportunity to learn how to make your roses gorgeous.
The pruned roses looked so good I blurted out that I thought I could take care of one section. After I announced my decision on the internet, I told Mr. Write, AKA Vince, about my project.
“There’s an adorable cove that I did not even know existed in my new section. I bet you could create something really beautiful there.”
Vince loved it and quickly came up with several ideas of what he might do with it. Meanwhile, I got started turning my new section into a Master Gardener amateur masterpiece.
I advertised on Facebook for community members to help the day before, but that was pretty short notice. However, the Garden has its own regulars.
The first person I saw was Jose. He offered to help so I gave him the loppers. He can’t see well, but that didn’t stop him. He chopped the roses down to a manageable level. Then I dug them out a little farther. Leaves, old branch trimming, and cockroaches filled the center of the plant, so I cleaned them out with a trowel as I clipped the smaller branches.
One garden regular said, “Put your hair up in a ponytail, then it won’t get in your face.” Duh! Good advice – dress for success.
My friend Sally raked the unwieldy branches into piles so they wouldn’t trip walkers after she finished working in other parts of the garden.
Instead of the three or four rose bushes I might have been able to prune on my own, we pruned fourteen roses, and I even found an old label telling us what they are.
Last year the Master Gardeners hosted a pruning class in the Garden. That information came in handy. It takes me a while to make the decisions as to which branches to prune, but the basic idea is to think of the rose as a bowl and clear out anything that points inward. They also say to prune off little branches and anything that is crossing.
Meanwhile, a friend of Jose’s named Victor came up and said he couldn’t help but would love to help the next time I come. He pruned a Rose of Sharon tree and several rose bushes before he left an hour or so later. Working in the Garden is addictive!
On Sunday afternoon I returned and three people dropped by to say hi as I worked.
If you have a business, church, or a non-profit, this is a great way to get out of your own circle of acquaintances and make some new friends. Today I chatted with Jose, prayed with a woman on a motorized scooter, and chatted with a police officer who offered to help during my next workday, which is February 22.
If you live in Woodlake or nearby you might be interested in caring for this garden which has been dubbed a Tulare County Treasure. Let me know if you are interested in adopting a section of the Woodlake Rose Garden and I’ll get you connected.
Or you can just drop by and help me in my Always Write newly adopted section.