The area became a park 100 years ago, when Henry Gassaway Davis purchased the land. Then, in 1981, the city added the adjacent YMCA land, and the late Mary Price Ratrie donated the land that was once a gas station along Summers Street. Ratrie also hired noted landscape architect Alice Ireys to design the park. Forren's motto, "Use what is already there," guided his redesign. Forren worked with the late Ireys' plans, which were rediscovered by Kanawha Garden Club from Ireys' Boston archives.
Kanawha Garden Club has enlisted the chairmen of Charleston's Beautification Committee, Mary Jane Vanderwilt and Carter Giltinan, to provide history and civic involvement. Goodwin, whose team oversees all the plantings downtown, has been working with the city crews on pruning, planting and moving existing shrubs. Lighting engineer Mike Abernethy inspected the lighting and determined it to be sufficient, and will continue to monitor the lighting as new phases are implemented. Tom Vasale, retired horticulturalist, has added his expertise.
Kanawha Garden Club has 45 members, and Ann Orders is the new president. Over the years, the club has dedicated its energies, manpower and funds to many gardening projects, including Celebration Station, Ruffner Park, Spring Hill Cemetery, the area in front of the Clay Center, Bridge Road plantings and the garden on Justice Row at the entrance to the Carriage Trail.
National Public Gardens Day
Friday, May 11, is National Public Gardens Day. This day of celebration is planned to raise awareness of America's public gardens and their role in promoting environmental stewardship, education, plant and water conservation in communities nationwide.
So many gardeners turn to public spaces to get ideas for design, plant selection, use of native and adaptable plants, and gardening methods. Non-gardeners have just enjoyed these green oases as great places to visit.
I searched for gardens within 100 miles of my home in Charleston that are members of the American Public Gardens Association, a group that promotes community green spaces around the country. The only member that appeared in its database is the Huntington Museum of Art, 2033 McCoy Road, Huntington. This is a beautiful spot for enjoying the great outdoors.
We are blessed in our area to have many beautiful parks, gardens and other green spots that are not official members of this organization. Be sure to visit (and support!) a local public garden soon.
Spring Flower Swap
LITTLE BIRCH -- The 11th annual Braxton County Spring Flower and Plant Swap will be held from 9-11 a.m. Saturday, May 12, at Little Birch School.
Rules for the event: No money is to be exchanged, each participant must bring at least one plant to exchange (more are encouraged), and plants can't be exchanged until 9 a.m.
New this year is a class on edible landscaping at 10 a.m., taught by master gardeners, and at 1:30 p.m., there will be a garden tour held at a Flatwoods residence. Information on the tour will be provided at the plant swap.
Call 304-765-2994 or 304-765-2049 for information.
Gardening tips for today
According to the West Virginia University Extension Service, this week is perfect for the following gardening tasks:
Seed annual flowers, summer squash and cucumbers, late celery and sweet corn outdoors. Plant early celery and tomato plants.
Herb and Tea Festival
The West Virginia Herb Association and the Charleston Tea Festival present the 2012 Spring Herb and Tea Festival from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 12 at India Center, 800 Green Rd. in South Charleston.
The festival's theme is "Everything's Coming up Roses." Herbal products, teas and craft items will be sold.
The program includes classes, hands-on workshops, tea tasting and mediation. Noted ethnobotantist Hassan Amjad, M.D. will speak. The event is free and open to the public. Call 304-577-9034 or visit wvherb.org.
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.