Visitors to Poland Village Hall in the summer often catch members of the Poland Village Gardeners weeding, planting and caring for the Centennial Gardens. While spring and planting season are a few months away, the gardeners in the organization are wasting no time in preparing for another season. They have already held two meetings and will continue planning for another year of fresh blooms.
The Poland Village Gardeners are celebrating 71 years of beautifying the Village. The Centennial Garden has been their canvas, and while it is, for the most part, complete, there is still work to be done.
According to member Lindy McMurray, the big accomplishment last year was the second and final phase of replacing the old hedges with Xiu hedging.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
The Poland Village Gardeners are hard at work preparing for spring. On Feb. 6 they held their second meeting of 2014 as they plan fundraisers and work towards an educational program in the gardens. Pictured are, seated, garden maintenance chair Lindy McMurray, and standing, Lee Eminhizer, brick sales chair Susan Beil, historian and historic marker chair Ginny Meloy, president Mary Kay Driscoll, and Margaret Ann Jonas.
For 2014, the club members are looking into the education side of the gardens.
"We will be labeling the flowers and trees to educate garden visitors," said the organization's president, Mary Kat Driscoll.
She said that will mean making appropriate labels for each plant, or group of plants.
Other than that program, the members will be continuing their maintenance of the gardens including setting up a watering schedule. They have 22 active members who share the time to come out and ensure the flowers, plants and trees have the best possible growing conditions.
"One thing to keep in mind is that we don't own the gardens," said Ginny Meloy, organization historian and historic marker chair. "We just maintain it."
One interesting fact is the age of the garden. The Village Hall is a Greek Revival structure that was built in 1845. In 1923, Judge James B. Kennedy created a formal garden at the rear of the building. As time progressed, the garden was neglected and overgrown until a group of residents came together to transform the garden for the Poland Village Centennial celebration. Since that time, the gardens have been maintained by the Poland Village Gardeners Inc. The organization was formed in 1943 for the purpose of beautifying Poland.
While the volunteer gardeners' time is on a volunteer basis, it does cost money to purchase fertilizer and replacement plants, as well as making the plant signs. To raise those funds, the garden club has two on-going fundraisers, brick sales and historic home plaques.
The bricks are part of a program that gives residents an opportunity to preserve special events on an engraved paver. The pavers are placed under the pergola at the center of the gardens. People have placed everything from mementos honoring individuals and businesses to preserving special occasions such as births, marriages and baptisms. Pamphlets on purchasing the pavers are available at Village Hall during business hours, or from organization members.
The other fundraiser is the historic marker program where residents and businesses can purchase a beautifully engraved marker with the date of construction and the original owner's name on it. For example, one well-known structure's sign says, "ca. 1804 Fowler's Old Stone Tavern."
"There are around 75 buildings in Poland that are displaying one of the markers," Meloy said. "We have about 100 19th century buildings still existing in the community."
Information on purchasing one of the historic markers is also available at Village Hall. Both the markers and the bricks are the main fundraisers that help the Poland Village Gardeners maintain the Centennial Garden.
One thing proceeds helped obtain was a street sign directing people to the gardens off Ohio 170. Since the gardens are located behind the Village Hall, it was hard to find from Ohio 170. The gardens have become a popular place for wedding and graduation photography, and is a desired spot for garden enthusiasts to visit.
"The main purpose of our club is to educate the public," Driscoll said. "We try to do that by introducing new plants in the gardens."
The gardeners also enjoy educating themselves by hosting guest speakers at their meetings. On March 26, Jim Nicora will attend the meeting and turn a shrub into a piece of Bonsi art. On April 23, Meloy will present garden fairies, or meeting the little people who visit the garden. May 10 will feature a garden clean-up, and May 21 will be the spring planting.
June 18 will play host to June Nolasco from Ohio State University, who will speak on creating a wildlife habitat in the back yard. The special events will continue through October with different speakers and topics. Information about the club is easily obtained by just visiting the gardens.
"Any day of the week, someone from our society will be in the garden," Driscoll said. "We are a very hands-on group."