Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
Master Gardener Bill Leedy clears blackberry and other unwanted plants on Friday from the area at Mount Fir Park where the group will plant a demonstration garden.
February 19, 2013
INDEPENDENCE -- Perhaps the most striking view of Mount Fir Park through last fall was in its southern half -- not because of Ash Creek meandering to its west, but the hedge-maze like corridor of blackberry bush, scotch broom and other weeds.
There's still too much of the pesky plants there today. Thankfully, it's mostly in burn piles.
Members of the Polk County Master Gardeners have been removing blackberry and weeds from the park for the last several months.
Their purpose? Preparation. The organization will start planting what will be an elaborate 3- to 4-acre demonstration garden in the park in May.
"It's going to be a multi-year project," said Bill Leedy, a Master Gardener. "Between budget and available time, we'll be doing what we can."
The garden will be an ambitious one. Gardeners will plant native trees, shrubs and grasses along the stream banks and rocky areas. Interspersed throughout will be flower and vegetable beds and fruit plantings.
"We've talked about sensory gardens, herb gardens, butterfly gardens," Leedy said. "We hope to put in a reflective area with benches and arbors where people can sit."
The project will happen during the next few years, with plantings taking place as Master Gardener funding and time allows. Independence will provide water and power service.
Oregon State Extension Service's Master Gardner program has volunteers throughout 30 counties. Many of them manage demonstration gardens to show off to the public the best practices for growing flowers, produce and woodland trees.
Polk County's 153-member group maintains gardens at Gentle House in Monmouth, Delbert Arboretum in Dallas and other locations.
"But we've wanted one large area," Leedy said. "Many other counties have gardens that are much more impressive than what we have ... we didn't have anything that illustrates our best efforts."
The group began searching for a spot around local communities in 2011. When none panned out, the city of Independence suggested Mount Fir Park, said Gail Miles, OSU Extension program assistant.
The site, donated to Independence by the old Mountain Fir Lumber Mill, has seen various efforts by natural resource agencies to restore wetland and native plants along the park's banks.
However "most of the site has been vacant and unused ever since the park was donated to the city," said Shawn Irvine, Independence economic development director. "This was a great way to activate the park ... and also ensure that it is properly maintained as a resource."
Leedy said he had reservations about the 7-acre park initially. It's seen its share of vandalism and has areas of clay soil that are difficult for growing.
"On the flip side, we have more than enough space and it's by the creek," Leedy said, noting the garden will be considerably larger than typical demonstration gardens.
A trail will be built through the park and garden that will eventually link to a 61-lot subdivision being built to the immediate south.
"We're near that boundary and could have a large number of people who could utilize the park and participate in our programs," Leedy said.
* For those interested in making a contribution to the Polk County Master Gardener demonstration garden at Mount Fir Park in Independence, or learning more about the project, call 503-623-8395 or visit http://extension.oregonstate.edu/polk/ and click on the "Master Gardener" link.