Woodlake Rose Garden began in 2004 as a labor of love, a gift from Manuel Jimenez, a local resident and Professor Emeritus at UC Davis, small farm advisor for the Southern Valley.
Manuel credits the garden to his wife, Olga for her love of roses. I picked a particularly lovely rose from the garden for Hugh and his Sunday Stills challenge of “orange.” This post is not colored orange, but see how many orange items you can spot.
As it grew, Woodlake Pride, a local nonprofit organization maintained the garden with the help of volunteers, mostly students.
When Manuel stepped back to focus on the Botanical Garden, three years ago, the rose garden fell into a state of disrepair. Kiwanis of Woodlake stepped in to fill in the gap between what the City of Woodlake could manage, and what needed to be done to bring the gardens back.
As a Kiwanian, I think that the pride in helping our small town stay beautiful is the primary benefit of this labor of love. We also benefit from meeting the many people who come to the gardens to enjoy a gentle walk. I also enjoy giving back in a small way to Manuel and Olga Jimenez.
Kiwanis enlisted some other non-profits to help out. Until COVID 19, the Master Gardeners of Tulare County maintained the largest portion of the garden. UC Davis restricted them from working in any garden anywhere because of the pandemic so they have just begun to work in the garden again. The weeds and work multiplied tenfold while they were gone. We are super glad they are back.
Above and Beyond
One Kiwanian stands out above and beyond the rest. Sally Pace spearheads the labor of love for the Kiwanis Club of Woodlake. A weekly walk determines the focus of the work. During midweek visits she provides the approved chemicals and sprays the weeds so that no one will get blasted with unwanted herbicide except her.
During official workdays, she digs out stubborn weeds choking the roses, deadheads, and makes her husband deliver mulch from their property to spread around the roses. She coordinates sprinkler repairs, donating little parts from her surplus stash at home, purchasing the bigger ones needed to repair the endless water leaks and recruiting volunteers to help her.
Need student help? No worries, Sally visits the Ag teachers at Woodlake High School to enlist their help identifying great students who need to earn community service hours in order to graduate. Early on the designated Saturday mornings Sally meets them and any Kiwanians who happen to come to help at the garden with snacks and a truck-load of equipment.
Supervising the students? Not really. She designates them to other Kiwanians. They just hope and pray they don’t get assigned to the man with the chainsaw. No one can keep up with her as she tackles whatever seems the most urgent problem of the day. You have to catch her to photograph her.
Then she sends out an email telling how hard everyone else worked and how fabulous they all are. I’m not sure how she benefits from her labor of love, but she labors tirelessly.
Heroes with No Vested Interest
Another set of unsung heroes are the folks like the ones in this picture who came from nearby Visalia to walk around the lake and saw us working. They have no vested interest other than they love the gardens. The next time they came to walk they brought pruners, and started deadheading roses. Another couple has come from Three Rivers several times to weed and patch vital water lines.
A local police officer dropped by when I was working with two students weeding, and stepped in to lend a hand. Local residents see a Facebook post and bring their rakes and their friends and come to the garden. Denise gets more done in an hour than most people do in ten.
Even the park bench sitters pick up a shovel, rake and hoe when we come near their benches rather than to sit and watch us work.
Here’s to happy Labor Day festivities to you, however you choose to spend them. If you come to Woodlake, might we suggest some labor of love ideas?
Thanks for hosting the Lens-Artists Challenge #113, Rusha.
Thanks to Hugh Roberts for hosting #Sunday Stills – Orange.
- How Four Strangers from Around the World Coordinate a Weekly Photo Challenge Interview #7 Lens-Artists, Tina, Patti, Ann-Christine, and Amy
- “For the Love of Challenges” Explained – rationale for interview series.
Call for Challengers
If you host a challenge, writing or photography, please contact me. I would love to interview you and share the “behind the scenes” story about your challenge.