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In the Garden: Labor of Love

#Lens-Artist Challenge #113

#Sunday Stills: Orange

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.

There’s at lease one orange item here.

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.

You’ll have to work hard to see the orange in this picture. Sally Pace

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.

The trash that people throw in the garden, turn me orange with anger.

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.

Watch out, Dennis. Hold on to your orange hat.

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?

Bit Moji wink

Thanks for hosting the Lens-Artists Challenge #113, Rusha.

Thanks to Hugh Roberts for hosting #Sunday Stills – Orange.

Related Posts

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.

29 replies »

    • Yes, and ours is not nearly large enough. I’m going to have them get rid of some of the spikey roses in my little area. The have Johnson grass embedded in the roots, and they are ugly. We have a pipeline going in within a year which will reap havoc on the garden path way, so they can come out early and save us some work. We’ll cover the area with mulch for now.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a wonderful example of community spirit, Marsha! It’s such a worthwhile project that many, many people will enjoy. I love that you highlighted their dedication and their labor of love!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A wonderful example of a labor of love and I especially love the aspect of so many pitching in with no financial reward at all. Your Sally must be quite something! Enjoyed the post very much and think your idea of a follow up interview with Rusha is a great idea! PS. you need to Tag your post Lens-Artists to have it show up in our reader section!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an incredible community you belong to with all the help these volunteers give, Marsha. Such a shame that some discard trash as they do. It always makes me angry when I see it happening, especially when there are trash bins available to put rubbish in.

    The orange rose is indeed beautiful, and I think I managed to spot the other orange objects. I hope Dennis managed to keep hold of his orange hat.

    Thank you for joining me for this week’s Sunday Stills.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for the lovely comment, Hugh. Woodlake is an incredible small community. Many of them have been here farming and ranching for generations. Thanks again for hosting Sunday Stills. I’m sure that is keeping you busy. If you would like to do a follow-up article on how it went – sort of a metacognition piece for my blog, I’d love to add it to my series on challenge hosts. 🙂


  4. This was a great post – Thank for all the kudos but Chuck House is the real mastermind of the project and you and Chuck are the ones that brought the main “players” together to talk! It has been a great “Labor of Love” for all of us. Thanks Marsha for keeping our work alive through your photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sally! I think the credit is richly deserved by the one who got most of it. I need pictures of the Woodlake Pantry work. That is so important, and I have been negligent about getting photos. HELP!


  5. This is a tremendously entertaining post. I like to garden and I am so happy to see this garden is surviving and thriving due to the labors of all these gardeners. And the orange challenge? Yes I can see it in almost all the photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Super, you could see mora than I did, then. I found a cap and a bucket, and, of course a rose. 🙂 Thanks for visiting and commenting. How was your grandson’s first week of school?

      Liked by 1 person

        • I love that word. It isn’t one that I’ve ever heard, acclimatization day. We had about a week of it at Woodlake High School because everyone needed to get used to using Zoom in a more thorough way than they threw together last spring.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. What a marvelous post! I’m so excited that you have been taking pictures for quite some time, and now you’ve compiled not only chronology of Woodlake Rose Garden but also a tribute incorporating the founder and the movers and shakers. And oh, my how wonderful to have Sally, a person who is not only a doer but one who is able to conscript additional help from students and onlookers. I do hope the garden can survive — they bring so much beauty to the world, but, as you’ve noted, they bring people together. Thanks so much for contributing this excellent post to the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #113.

    By the way, I’m a retired English teacher, principal, and consultant — we probably have a lot in common!!! Rusha

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think we do have so much in common, just reading your post, but now I know why! LOL. You did an excellent job of hosting. How would you like to do a short post or interview about the experience of hosting someone else’s challenge after things calm down for you a little. I’m sure you are going to be swamped this week! 🙂 It would be a great follow-up to my interview with the Four Lens-Artists. I’m so looking forward to getting better acquainted. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marsha, I would be happy to speak with you soon, but, as you said, this week is not the best time. We will be traveling to the Gettysburg and Eastern Shore areas for the next two weeks. Let me know what you have in mind, and I will start thinking about it. Here is my email address:
        Thanks for asking! These four ladies do a great job with the challenges, and I’d love to show my support of what they’re accomplishing each week.

        Liked by 1 person




Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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