May 7, 2018

Park District raised gardens grow

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Raised pollinator and herb beds are planted and growing at Chilo Lock 34 Park, while the vegetable bed is waiting for baby bunnies to clear out before planting.

CHILO – The actress Audrey Hepburn once said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

The Clermont County Park District believes in a lot of tomorrows and has the gardens to prove it.

Look around this National Wildflower Week and see new flowers and landscaping everywhere from Pattison Lodge to the Harman Log Cabin. Spring wildflowers are blooming in all the Park District properties.

But at Chilo Lock 34 Park, one gardening project is more than mere beautification. It’s a way to promote native plants, support pollinators and – eventually – grow some local food.

Naturalist Melissa Kichler designed a trio of raised beds at Chilo, each with a theme – vegetables, native pollinators and native herbs.

“The planting style somewhat mimics early settlers’ plantings,” she said. “Raised beds were used so fertile soil might be added and easily amended in a contained area near a kitchen. Raised beds also accommodated gardeners tending to weeds and harvest.

“Early gardens were composed of staples used for cooking. Early Ohioans relied upon their own herbs as a source of medicine and as aromatics to freshen the home.”

Two of the beds have been planted, but the third hosts an animal family at the moment.

The veggie bed is on hold until the nest of baby bunnies moves out,” Kichler said. “But the herb and pollinator beds will display a simple symmetry with a tall variety alone in the center and complementary varieties on either side.

In the pollinator bed, New England asters will be in the center and achieve the greatest height. They will be flanked by milkweed on one end of the bed, with zinnia and salvia serving to complement the milkweed on the other.

Sunflowers are the centerpiece of the herb bed, with coneflower and bee balm on either end.

Contents of the vegetable bed are to be determined, but Kichler is leaning toward corn, pole beans or squash in the center, a root vegetable like carrot, parsnip or radish on one end and cucumber, onion or chive on the other.

The herb bed and pollinator bed plants came from Clermont Soil and Water, supporting a local 4H fundraiser.

Mark D. Motz is the Community Relations Manager for the Clermont County Park District. A native Cincinnatian, he has worked for more than 25 years as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. Away from work, he enjoys photography, theater and spending time with his nine godchildren.

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