Side Ad 1
Marion Times Header
Master Gardeners turn Lowe Park into a paradise
by DJ Kauffman Correspondent · August 17th, 2017

A garden should make you feel you've entered privileged space - a place not just set apart but reverberant - and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry. -Michael Pollan

The Marion Parks Department estimates 8 to 10 thousand people visit Lowe Park's garden each year, said Garden Manager Shelby Foley. "We often encounter members of the public as we are tending the garden. This interaction is one of the most rewarding activities as we meet many visitors from both near and far. We also donate the produce from our garden beds to local food pantries," she said.

The garden is planted and tended by a core group of 20 Master Gardeners and other part-time assistants. A bed leader is assigned to each bed, and each leader lays out his or her garden area. "I meet with them and together we decide what needs to be purchased, or what we will grow in our greenhouse," Foley said.

They plant the garden beds in late May or early June, weather permitting. "Our goal is to have everything in place by Memorial Day, but that isn't always possible," she said.

And fall clean-up occurs usually in mid-October, after the first hard frost.

The garden expense is included in the Linn County Extension budget, totaling $1,500 each year. The dollars cover the cost of plants, seeds, landscape, mulch, soil enhancers, and plant care needs, Foley said.

According to Foley, the expansive garden at Lowe Park was first planted in 2006, after spending a year planning the design. The idea for the garden came from the then Parks Director Richard Fox in 2005.

Foley said she became involved after Fox asked the Linn County Master Gardeners if they were interested in partnering in a demonstration garden near the new Lowe Park Arts & Entertainment building and surrounding areas. "I had just transferred into Linn County from Polk County, where I had been very active in their demo garden. So, I became the contact person representing our programs. A win-win for the benefit of both parties," she said.

Foley led a group of six hands-on Master Gardeners during the implementation phase. "The group designed the bed layouts and the focus of each of them. We have beds that range from roses, annuals, vegetables, herbs to conifers; 14 areas total."

Foley defined a Master Gardener as a "community member, trained in public research-based information by ISU instructors and interacting with the public through ISU's extension and outreach programs. Master Gardeners receive 40 hours of classroom instruction and are required to serve 40 volunteer hours the first year. Ongoing participation requires 20 volunteer hours and 10 continuing education hours every year."

The well-kept Lowe Park garden and green house is located at 4500 N. 10th Street in Marion. For more information, visit
Contact the Marion Times
808 6th St. Suite 1
Marion, Iowa 52302
P: (319) 377-7037
F: (319) 377-9535 | Marion Times | The Only Newspaper Serving Marion First
News | Sports | Opinions | Obituaries | Robins | Hiawatha | Archives | Business Directory | City News
Like the Marion Times on Facebook
Web Development by Brian McMillin, LLC
News Sports Opinions Obituaries Archives Business Directory City News Marion Times