Steady progress is being made on the wildflower/pollinator gardens on the west side of Ariel-Foundation Park. If the weather cooperates, discing is happening this week to prepare the soil for the winter.
Staff members have worked all summer on preparing the ground for seeding, which will occur in the spring. This included a series of strategic mowing, spraying and clearing away brush. The initial timeline had the planting happening this fall, but with the amount of work needing done, this has been pushed to the spring. This will allow the park to work with experts like Guy Denny, president of the Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves Association, and "Doc" Jim Brown, Mount Vernon Shade Tree Commission, to select appropriate seed.
A trench and silt fence have been installed as the project has developed in order to keep any soil/seed runoff from the west lake, which is temporarily connected to the scenic Kokosing River due to a levee washout last November. Jody Holland, coordinator of nature programs at the park, has been leading this effort to prepare the land.
More than 100 pine trees have been planted by the Shade Tree Commission along the western ridge of the natural "bowl" shape of the area where the new gardens will be planted. These will serve as a windbreak and visual enhancement.
"Even though the public doesn't get to see the tremendous amount of work going into this project, it's one that will have great benefits for our community a few years down the road," said Operations Director Mark Fritz. "Not only will it be a lovely location for weddings, family gatherings and photo shoots, it will positively affect the bird, bee and butterfly population in a 25-mile radius. Plus, it better utilizes a currently under-utilized portion of the park."
Also being discussed for the next three years are restrooms, picnic pavilion and potential educational programs associated with this area of the park.
Once the overall plan is finalized, a capital campaign will be announced. Anyone interested in investing in this capital project should contact Melanie Bolender via the park website under "Support."
Foundation Park Conservancy wishes to thank Ohio Rental, Advantage Ag & Equipment, and Wade & Gatton Nurseries, all of whom have contributed to the success of this project.
For more information about Ariel-Foundation Park, visit www.arielfoundationpark.org or follow the park on Facebook.