Issue 55: The Garden Group

By: Garden Group Volunteers

In early Spring of 2017 a group of individuals met at Rockland City Hall with then Mayor Will Clayton and Parks Chairman John (Mike) Grondin in hopes of creating a group of volunteer gardeners that wanted to restore the beauty of the gardens within the city. They had the ability to see the potential the City of Rockland had, it just needed some love, time, and care. This group was willing to spend their summer doing just that! For years flowers had been planted by numerous volunteers, however, as volunteers aged, or funds got cut, some of the care and maintenance tapered off. There were many volunteers that wanted to help but didn’t know where to begin. This meeting gave those interested an opportunity to know where their time was needed. A partnership developed with the interested volunteers and has since grown and added to the special warmth that area residents and visitors alike have come to enjoy and appreciate.

Rockland already offers a wonderful coastline that is visited by thousands of tourists each year. This small city is filled with people that get to call this community home. As we have an overworked and tight budgeted Public Services and Harbor Master’s Dept., it limits how much they can do to maintain the parks, islands and memorials. They already water the flowers on Main Street, empty the garbage cans, do road work, mow, and countless other jobs. The Bolduc Unit from the MSP have done some amazing stonework to support the garden efforts and the MSP show room workers have made some great picnic tables for the parks. We have dozens of parks, squares, and islands throughout out our community and the interested volunteers wanted to “pitch in” to perpetuate the Volunteer effort.

At the first meeting, the volunteers had a map of the city and they each picked where they wanted to work. Over the spring these volunteers worked countless hours cleaning up the gardens and planted flowers and bushes. In conjunction with Public Services Dept., areas that needed special attention got tended. Volunteers contribute their own money to by annuals and perennials, swapped their own plants, some plants were switched out and the Rockland Public Library donated plants from their annual sale. Volunteers weeded and pruned. By fall you could walk through town and see the amazing amazing transformation this group of volunteers accomplished. You would see beds of flowers. Different colors, shapes, sizes, and smells couldn’t be missed. However, while there has been a huge improvement, there is still lots that needs to be done.

This again is all done by volunteers and there is so much more that could be done. With additional funds they would be able to purchase even more sustainable flowers and colorful bushes. Additionally, they need more volunteers. This dedicated group will devote some time to fundraising as they are cash strapped. The City Council and the Parks Commission have donated annually, and the local garden centers have been most generous. Last week they had their second meeting in which they welcomed three new volunteers that wanted to the group. Opportunities to help out remain and if interested you can call city hall for contact information. They put out an “SOS” when hands are needed and have been fortunate to get a group assembled for larger projects.

When you talk to these volunteers you can hear their passion and the comradery they have developed in a year. They are eager to share stories of people driving by beeping and giving a “thumbs up” or “high five”. People walking by stop to complement them on how beautifully the gardens have been transformed. Their work is impossible not to notice, and we are lucky to have such amazing volunteers willing to spend their spring, summer, and fall improving the City of Rockland. Keep an eye out, their donated Spring bulbs should be popping out soon! And keep an eye on the development of MacDougal Park for a delightful transformation being planned!

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