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Garden areas receive amazing transformation
by Nancy Grindle Correspondent · July 6th, 2017

When lots of people give a little bit, the results are often amazing. The gardens at Marion Senior Living Community are an example of that.

"I expect that these plants will continue to provide habitat for butterflies and beauty for our residents for many years to come," said Dick Grimm, President of the Board of Directors of the Senior Living Community, after the project was finished.

A number of years ago, a Boy Scout had created a butterfly garden near the gazebo on the grounds of the senior living community. It was his Eagle project. Over time, some annuals were added, but the area had seen some neglect.

Three ladies from the Trinity Pointe building on the complex talked early this spring about what might be done to spruce up the garden. They still wanted pollinators but wanted other additions too:

More plants, mostly perennials so they would be there for many years

Variety in leaf shape, color, height, and bloom time

Sunny varieties as well as semi-shady plants

Of the three, June Emerson was the expert at what the Scouts had already planted. Ann Freeman sought donations of materials and funds, and Kathy Kloss contributed her gardening skills.

Kathy came up with a drawing of possible plants and locations. They also made a wish list of plants they liked.

Then they took a written request to Nancy Nelson, resident manager. Nancy immediately approved the request for the project.

A first call for help came in early May: "Do you know some people who could help with weeding and planting?"

The Board of Director's own president, Dick Grimm, responded to the plan, not only verbally but with many hours on site.

Dick and Kathy, along with a group of wonderful students from Xavier High School, worked long and hard to clean up the area. Dick helped visit a number of stores to see availability and pricing.

In the meantime, Ann rounded up donations of money, discounts and help with transportation.

One of the greatest sources was Jared, the garden manager at Hy-Vee Drugstore in Marion. Not only did he give great discounts, but he and his staff helped load up the flowers. Even after Kathy and Ann exhausted their funds, he told them to pick out more plants. In the end, they loaded six huge flats of mostly perennials into Kathy's car.

Connie Collins from Trinity made three trips to haul two rolls of landscaping mesh and 20 bags of mulch. When they realized they had vastly underestimated the amount needed, Craig Titler, the on-site maintenance tech, took his truck for another two rolls and 20 bags.

Remember those hot 90-degree-plus days? That's when Dick and Kathy planted all those plants. After that, Kathy had to water at least 45 minutes every other day to keep them going. So they were thankful, both for the cooler weather and the rains that came last week.

The flowers included all of these: four different colors of mini-rose bushes, two mini-Stella lilies, five Cardinal flowers, three purple and white balloon flowers, three coreopsis, four colors of stonecrop sedum, two creeping Chinese sedum, two coral bells, blue spruce ornamental grasses, four orange and two yellow daisies and five herbs. In addition, Elan Schneider from Cedar Rapids donated many hostas and Joan Crow from Trinity brought a one-gallon phlox and two butterflies for decorations.

A number of local businesses contributed coupons for meals for the workers - Papa John's, Zio Johnno's, Wendy's, Taco Bell and Pizza Ranch.

Kathy said, "I hope now everyone will take a glass of lemonade down and visit with friends while they enjoy the gazebo, flowers, butterflies and birds. It turned out really nice."

Dick added, "I'm really glad this project came about. Thanks to all who came up with ideas and donated time, money and materials. It was a bigger undertaking than we first realized, but it turned out so well. To our residents, I say, 'Come and enjoy.'"

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