A Warm Welcome
At the beginning of the summer each of us interns chose a project that we would oversee and carry out over the summer. My chosen task was to work on the entrance of the gardens to make it a more welcoming place that invites visitors inside. Even though it is a broad and long term project, I have been having a lot of fun with it and have seen drastic improvements even in the short time that I have been working with it. Here is an update of some of the things I have done with a lot of help from the other staff and volunteers:
The Monk Botanical Gardens sign
If you have visited us before you probably noticed our big sign outside of the fence. It used to be on the left side of the main gate. However, this summer we had contractors come and move it over to the right side of the main gate. This had two purposes. The main reason was that the new gate we installed was about to come in and the sign was in the way of where it was going. The second reason was that the sign’s previous location was not visible from the road most visitors take to get to the gardens. The sign’s new location is conveniently aside from the gate and visible from the road as visitors drive in.
One of my favorite projects this summer was planting the annual flowers that were donated to us by Wausau East High School. The annuals added color to the beginning part of the memorial garden, the beds next to the main gate, and the new bed in front of the recently moved sign. The new plantings are a variety of flowers including geraniums, sweet potato vines, zinnias, cosmos, canterbury bells (which is actually a biennial), daylilies, petunias, snapdragons, and many more. Pictured below is a pot filled with geraniums in the center and sweet potato vines around the side. The flowers have done a great job of filling in some empty mulched areas and it gives visitors more to look at as they begin their walk through. I also have the honor of tending to these plants as they grow and bloom throughout the summer.
We recently added the field past the parking lot to the garden’s property. With this new addition, we decided to begin the clean up process of the areas most visible from the road. With this goal in mind, I set out to weed and mulch around a few plants and an oak tree that were overgrown near the stop sign at the corner of the field. After working at it for two hot days it was finally a success. In the process I had also discovered plants that I never knew existed in there because the grass had overshadowed and grown through them so much. It was a very rewarding experience to make that big of a difference in the first location people see as they drive in.
The Shed’s New Home
The only thing I had to do with this project was remove all of the items from the shed and put them back in so that full time staff and volunteers could move it. I thought I would mention it though, because it is a very prominent change to the entryway. The shed is no longer the first thing visitors see when they walk in the gate. We moved it farther back and tucked it away behind some brush. This will help our visitors to have a better experience as our work with loud equipment and many tools will be centralized away from the main gate so that they can focus on the peaceful walk they sought out.
By writing this blog I hope I have been able to inform you on some of the many changes you might see when you initially walk in the gardens as well as the reasons behind them. It brings me great joy to see the transformation that has already taken place. As I mentioned in the beginning, this is a long term project so there are many more improvements in the years to come. Little by little, we at the Monk Botanical Gardens are trying to give each and every visitor that walks through our gate a warm welcome.