To blog or sleep? That is the question

And really, that IS a question I have to ask about other to-do’s that are on my perpetual “list”. Do you relate?

Do I do my laundry or sleep?

Do I go through that huge stack of mail or do I sleep?

Do I weed in my OWN garden or do I sleep?

Do I come back to the job site and pull an all-niter (to avoid the heat of the sun) after I get off of my “paying job” or do I sleep?

Right now, Empowering Gardeners is in the middle of installing a community garden at our local Armory and Community Center and YMCA.  We had a great first work weekend.  In those two days, we got our hardscaping in place and the beds built with the help of a fantastic team of volunteers that included the hard-working, big-hearted Lowe’s Heroes volunteers.

The week following our first two work days, the weather turned grueling.  After not having any rain worth mentioning for two weeks, we had some severe storms and record high temps and dangerous humidity which has continued for the last 12 days.

What seems as an insurmountable mountain to us is just “texture” to God.                        Original photo by simonds

Those two factors have contributed to a HUGE drop in volunteer assistance with this project.  Everyone wants to help, but it hardly seems wise to put health at risk in order to volunteer.  And when there is so much storm damage to clean up, it is difficult to justify investing in building and beautifying other places when help is needed just to clean up and repair damage to existing homes and personal property. In fact, the third planned work day (this past Saturday, June 30) we had to cancel our plans because of another storm that blew through the morning we were scheduled to work.

When weather and life wreck our carefully laid plan and cripple our volunteer forces so that we are not able to forge full-steam ahead with a project; there is only one thing to do- keep moving toward our goal of completion one small task at a time.

For the leader of a project (in this case, me) completion can seem like an elusive mirage, shimmering beautifully just beyond my reach, no matter how many days and hours I spend completing one task at a time. I can be paralyzed by the sheer magnitude of the work that still remains and I can be intimated by the realization that there are many tasks yet to be completed that are beyond the scope of my own abilities  But it is here that I feel God inviting me to look at things from his perspective and then to speak TRUTH into this situation.

It’s all about perspective.                                                                                                                     Thanks for original photo by Mad Cow NL and editing by allthecolors

I can address God and say  “God, here are my problems” or I can address my problems and say “Problems, here is my God”. Neither approach is “wrong” but the latter helps me personally to refocus with a more healthy perspective.

There is no problem I face, no project I am responsible for, no lack of ability that is insurmountable and not able to be overcome and used to ultimately glorify God.  To Him, the mountains are just texture; the mirage is a reflection of His grace that I am blessed to see, and the issues I cannot solve in my own ability; an opportunity to witness His provision at work.

I’m sharing today that while I haven’t been able to spend time blogging all the beautiful moments of timely provision; God has provided.  We wont schedule another work day on this project because to do so takes weeks of preparation and we have a July 13 deadline to meet. Even without being asked directly, there have been volunteers who have just showed up at the work site and braved the soaring temps and worked alongside me for a few hours at a time. My husband has helped day in and day out; being an invaluable help. We even enjoyed the help of a group of (10) soldiers from the 585th Ohio Army National Guard Military Police this last week; turning ground and hauling in mulch that God also provided.

I marvel also at His provision of my personal ability to keep pressing on.  Anyone who knows me well knows I cannot tolerate the heat and humidity and yet somehow God has given me the ability to work 4-12 hours each day in this weather without suffering from heat exhaustion or crippling fatigue.  He has given my children a cool place to rest and play while I work.  He has provided every thing we have needed to complete each task  in a timely manner.  And this reminds me again of the importance of simply asking God “What do you want us to do?” and then going where He directs. Doing as He directs.

People have asked us “Why the Armory?  Why the YMCA?”  I have since realized many reasons “Why” but in the beginning it was simply because God provided the exact vision and the exact location and the exact persons to approach. He said; “Go. Do. Now.”

And that, combined with the faith to take that first small step, was enough.

This was and is His project, not Empowering Gardeners; certainly not mine.  We are blessed to be able to be the group He has chosen to do this work. We are blessed to watch Him open every door and provide for every need; on time, every time. We are humbled and blessed to realize anew that without the passion and care of all the other volunteers that He has also called to this project; nothing would be accomplished. It takes every one of us doing our specific part to make something big happen.

We thank all of our wonderful volunteers.  We thank God for His faithfulness and His provision.

Today I blog, do laundry, go through the mail and play with my kids. Heck I might even pull a weed in my own yard. Tonight I sleep.

God is good.

Volunteer opportunity for families to serve together…

Every Garden Is A Living Classroom And Abounds With Opportunities For Gentle, Poignant, Teachable Moments

Plant a mini-garden to make a difference-Plants and dirt provided!

The Press Release Is Out:

The Lowes Hero’s Volunteers were out in force on Saturday, June 23rd working alongside other Empowering Gardeners volunteers to establish an accessibility garden at the Union County Armory Training and Community Center and YMCA.  An “accessibility garden” is simply a garden that has been designed in such a way as to be more accessible to those with limited mobility; including those persons who may be confined to a wheelchair.

While ALL gardens benefit from having potted mini-gardens,

Having them in an accessibility garden is key. While there will be some in-ground garden plants; the majority of this space is being designed so that the experience of tending to, nurturing and growing this garden can be accessible to all, regardless of ability to bend, stoop, lift, etc.

What:

We are offering the opportunity for volunteers to make this space beautiful by donating a pot and joining us on Saturday, June 30 to plant some mini-gardens.

Any heavy duty (outdoor appropriate) pot 14 inches or over is welcome. Bigger is better in this space. You choose what to plant in it. You can buy your own plants or choose from the hundreds we already have donated to us to plant.

Who:

All volunteers are welcome. Volunteers must complete a volunteer application (applications will be on-site) before serving. Families are encouraged to serve together. All children under age 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

When:

Saturday, June 30, 2012 from 9am -12 pm we will meet together and have a “planting party”.  We will plant some plants together and have some fun. If you prefer to plant a potted mini-garden on your own, you are more than welcome to. All potted gardens must be donated by July 7, 2012. Empowering Gardeners is also sponsoring a contest for the “Best Overall Design” and “Edible Beauty” for anyone who would like to enter their planted mini-garden. Participation is voluntary. Deadline for entry is July 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm. Prize details can be found on our blog: SeedsOnFertileSoil.com “Plant A Mini-Garden To Make A Difference!”

A container garden is raised so sensory attributes really stand out. Play with color, texture, sound, edibles, etc to create an interesting garden that invites a person to experience your garden with their senses.

How:

Contact Caryn Dalton at EmpoweringGardeners@hopecenterohio.org or call at 937.707.4769 to sign up to volunteer for this special event

Where:

At the rear of the OH National Guard Training and Community Center.  Turn onto Charles Drive from Coleman’s Crossing Blvd.  The first parking lot entrance to the right is where the garden site is located.  Additional parking at YMCA. Please do not park in the Urgent Care parking lot.

Bonus!  Gardening Guru, Bob Berbee, of Dutch Mill Greenhouse is going to offer a FREE how-to-plant-a-mini-garden demonstration/workshop from 9-10 a.m.  Don’t miss your opportunity to join the fun and make a difference in our community by helping to establish and beautify this community garden!

Empowering Gardeners In The News -Press Release

In the spirit of informing the community of the work we are doing and what changes are coming; our Press Release was sent out to four papers last week.

What usually happens is that we send out a Press Release and then a reporter will make a “story” of the information. Press Releases are rarely printed as they are received by the Newspapers and the final articles are written from the perspective of the reporter/editor’s viewpoint and focus and are edited within the constraints of available print space.  As links are put online to the articles that were created from our Press Release, this post will be updated with those links.

For immediate Release
June 19, 2012

Empowering Gardeners Sowing the seeds to “Grow Tomorrow”

The Ohio National Guard’s Marysville Training and Community Center is the beneficiary of a new, carefully designed, accessible garden developed by Empowering Gardeners, a division of The Hope Center in Union County.

Always looking for innovative ways to work with the synergy of existing relationships and partnerships in the community to provide sustainable spaces that support sustainable programming; Empowering Gardeners proposed an idea to the Guard’s Training and Community Center and the YMCA that would give both facilities a vested interest and allow both to utilize the space for the communities and groups they serve.

“It is so exciting to be able to offer an accessible gardening space that will allow equal opportunity to all persons, including those persons with limited mobility and who may be confined to a wheelchair, to participate in gardening and nutritional programming that focuses on connecting us with each other and the food we eat” said Caryn Dalton, Executive Director of Empowering Gardeners. “We break ground Friday, June 22 and are planning for the entire space to be completed by mid-July”

The Site is visible from Coleman’s Crossing and is adjacent to the enclosed corridor that links the two facilities together.

“It’s good to be able to undergird the community-building efforts of both The Ohio National Guard’s Marysville Training and Community Center and the YMCA by establishing this space for them” said Caryn Dalton. “We also want to point to the fact that Lowe’s of Marysville and Scotts Miracle-Gro also greatly invested in our local community by supporting this project with the Lowe’s Hero’s Grant and a Scotts Miracle-Gro award for “innovative garden and green space development”.  Additional funding was received by generous private, anonymous donors who believe in the good that our local Armory and YMCA does in our community.  Over 50  local volunteers have been inspired to sign up to help establish this accessible garden. This is about Businesses, Organizations, Agencies and Individuals all working side-by-side to build our community. Together, we are literally growing tomorrow.   And we are doing it one garden at a time.”

If you are also inspired to get involved, please contact Caryn Dalton at EmpoweringGardeners@hopecenterohio.org  or by phone: 937.707.4769

A Beautiful Garden Is A Work Of Heart

The heart of a volunteer is displayed in the work of their hands

And that is why, before the first shovel of dirt is unearthed; the first path is laid and the first bloom stretches itself toward the sun; the community garden Empowering Gardeners is breaking ground on, June 22, is already a thing of beauty. This garden will be a work of heart.

 

Something amazing happens when volunteers unite for a common purpose; to build community and to serve others.  We work hard and laugh harder.  In our work, we share responsibilities and burdens and in so doing; learn how to give assistance with careful consideration and receive the help of others with grace.  Respect for the team dynamic is cultivated and “solo-artists” are humbled as it quickly becomes obvious that in order to do something bigger than ourselves, we have to join hearts and hands with the persons next to us.

We come out of our well-stocked hideouts, take off the headphones, put down the cell phones and connect with each other over common ground and purpose.

Seeds are planted where hearts will soon be in full bloom. And we find a simple, ancient contentment and satisfaction in the work of our hands and the alignment of our hearts.  Beauty is found there…. long before the garden is in bloom.

If you would like to know more about the available volunteer opportunities with Empowering Gardeners, please contact Caryn Dalton at EmpoweringGardeners@hopecenterohio.org

How to develop a tailor-made sensory garden plan

For a moment, I’d like for you to take a mini-vacation in your mind to a garden setting that just captivated you; a place you will never forget.

If I asked you to give me a list of 5 descriptive words that captured the essence of why you connected in that way, what would those words be? Here are mine:

  1. Calm
  2. Foliage
  3. Spacious
  4. Texture
  5. Inspiring

Now, to find out what senses were stimulated enough to invoke such imagery, let’s list some descriptive words from that same special destination that stimulated your sense of touch, sight, taste, smell or sound.  Here are some sentence starters to get you thinking: I could say “I can still feel the….”  “I could feel how…” “When I closed my eyes I heard…”The colors reminded me of…” “It smelled so heavenly, like….”

Here’s my list of descriptive words that stimulated my senses:

Water                       Rustling                        Minimal
Silver                        Magnolia                       Wood

On my list, every sense except taste was stimulated. Had there been some ripening fruit or edible seed/herb/spice anywhere around, it would have “spoken to” all of my senses. What about yours?

An exercise like this can result in your having two very important lists with which to get your creative juices flowing. The first list is all about knowing what draws you in and then makes you want to stay awhile no matter what you are doing there. The second list is all about those details that, when beautifully intertwined; resulted in that vivid memory you still have to this day.

Want to know my process for planning a sensory garden?  Well, I start with a piece of paper or an excel doc.  I make 6 columns across the top of the”page” with column 1 representing  “Plant Name” and the other columns representing the five senses. Then I make lists of plants that I personally enjoy and that work for my application and environment in column one.  I put a descriptive attribute in any “sense” column that plant will stimulate in a way that makes a significant difference in my garden. So, for my favorite garden plant –Plectranthus ‘Silver Shield’ – I would write Fuzzy, Silver, Well-branched, and Open-form in the “Sight” column.  In the “Touch” column, I would write soft, fuzzy.  This plant does not offer anything for “Taste”, “Sound” or “Smell” Columns.  So, why does it score highly enough to go in my garden?  Because it’s a visual, tactical delight and its impact is huge.

How to hone in on that perfect plant with online research

I populate and develop my categories by searching online for sensory gardens that appeal to only one sense. Try searches like “Touch” Garden, “Fragrant” Garden, “Plants with unique texture”, etc.  Don’t forget to search for Images with your search terms!  That’s how I found my favorite all time garden plant.  I saw it and said to myself “What is THAT?” 🙂 After my list is populated, I can quickly see which plants are the most valuable and will give me the “most bang for my buck”.  They are the ones that stimulate as many of my senses as possible.

Here is a table that will help you seek out plants that have desirable attributes for a sensory garden

Sight

Sound

Smell

Touch

Taste

Movement of wind, animals and insects creates visual stimulation

Movements of animals, human, winds and insects create sound

Perfume

Rough

Fruits

Sunlight and shade are huge elements of visual stimulation

Rustling

Delicate

Fuzzy

Vegetables

Overall forms of plants: weeping,
cascading, upright, columnar, rounded, open

Whistling

Night scent

Prickly

Spices

Shape and texture of foliage,seeds, pods, fruits and berries

Knocking

Scent is released when brushed or crushed

Slick /Smooth

Herbs

Overall texture: lacey, smooth, rough,
ruffled, puffy, wispy, feathery, fuzzy, dull, waxy, velvety

Dried pods sound like “shakers”

Scent released with heat

Succulent

Roots

Color

Swaying

Savory  Sweet   Spicy

Springy   Soft  Bumpy

Seeds  Nuts     Grains

Tailoring YOUR personal plant list  for your space

This is the part where your research will start to really work for you; eliminating a lot of future headaches. Think about adding more columns like zone, size, growth rate, sunlight and moisture needs, type of plant, (perennial, shrub) etc.  Make your list your own!  A little research now will result in a sensory garden that not only delights your senses but will mature beautifully in your own micro-environment. And, I assure you; even if others have  different sensory  interests, your garden will still be one of the most interesting and stimulating ones your guests have ever been in.

Bonus idea:  This planning process works well to develop more interesting themed gardens.  We have created hosta and herb gardens using the sensory garden planning approach and the result was incredible. One might even say “Tailor-Made”. 🙂

What are some of your favorite sensory garden plants? Have you found some surprising discoveries of plants that are often overlooked for their sensory value?  If you would like to share with our readers, please comment with your plant list and which sense they stimulate for you. In this way, we can expose each other to new plants and continue to develop our tailor-made garden spaces.

Plant a mini-garden to make a difference-Plants and dirt provided!

Planting in pots is fun and allows for creative expression using all kinds of plants.

Our last post was all about Pots!

Well, pots and how several of them together can create beautiful Potted Gardens.  We are getting ready to plant a beautiful Potted Garden and invite you to join us in making a difference one mini-garden at a time.

Empowering Gardeners is establishing an accessibility garden at the Union County Armory Training and Community Center and YMCA.

An “accessibility garden” is simply a garden that has been designed in such a way as to be more accessible to those with limited mobility; including those persons who may be confined to a wheelchair.

While ALL gardens benefit from having potted mini-gardens,

Having them in an accessibility garden is key.  There will be some in-ground garden plants but the majority of this space is being designed so that the experience of tending to, nurturing and growing this garden can be accessible to all, regardless of ability to bend, stoop, lift, etc.

We are offering the opportunity for folks to shape the aesthetics of this project by donating a pot and joining us on Saturday, June 30 to plant some mini-gardens.

Any heavy duty (outdoor appropriate) pot 6 inches or over is welcome. Bigger is better in this space. You choose what to plant in it. Some pots will be painted to coordinate with the color scheme of the garden but no pot will be painted against it’s donors wishes.

Future Site of Armory and Community Center and Union County YMCA Community Garden

Colors are coordinating with the YMCA red and the existing colors on the exterior Armory and YMCA buildings. If anyone is interested in painting your pot, contact Caryn Dalton at empoweringgardeners@hopecenterohio.org and we will get you the color information.

So…

What:

Pots! Pots! and more Pots! are needed to make this space more beautiful and accessible.  You donate a pot-The plants and dirt will be provided.

When:

Saturday, June 30, 2012 from 9am -12 pm we will meet together and have a planting party.  We will plant some plants and have fun. If you prefer to plant a potted mini-garden on your own, you are more than welcome to. All potted gardens must be donated by July 7, 2012. Read on about a contest our group is sponsoring that you may enter your pot in if you so desire; deadline for entry is also July 7, 2012.

How:

Pick the plants you like, arrange them in your pot and water well!  That’s pretty much it.

Where:

All mini-pots will be placed at this community garden and will be cared for, watered, nurtured, etc by YMCA staff, Empowering Gardeners Group, volunteers and an automated watering system. Gotta love that!

Other details:

  • All pots will have a dedication tag if one is requested.  Please just let us know the details and we will place an honorary plant marker in your garden.
  • Tax deductible receipts are available through the Hope Center for your NEW pot or pre-planted potted garden
  • The Empowering Gardeners Group is holding a contest for the garden that provides the best balance of shape, texture & color (including the pot itself).  Gardens that are also perennial, sensory and/or edible will be given special notice. Judging will take place July 14 and three winners will be chosen. 1st place winner will receive a $20 gift certificate to Lowe’s of Marysville (our main Corporate Sponsor for this project).  If you think Lowe’s is just an uncaring big box store, I (and many others) can tell you a different story.  Lowe’s has a mission to invest in this community and we appreciate their ongoing support. 2nd and 3d place winners will receive a gift certificate for one large, 1-topping Pizza from Monarchs Pizza in Marysville. Monarchs has been supporting this community in very special ways for years! Thanks, Monarchs!   In addition to these prizes, a photo of winning entries will be highlighted on this blog and our project pages on our website.  Don’t be nervous! You MAY enter your potted garden in our contest, but participation is NOT mandatory.  We just thought it would be fun for someone to walk away from this volunteering experience with public personal acknowledgement from our group; a tip of our gardening hats. 🙂

Have fun and thank you for your contribution to this important community garden!

Please see update to this post “Volunteer Opportunity For Families To Serve Together” June 25, 2012.

Pots! Pots! Pots!

Potted Gardens are more accessible and allow much control over texture, form and color. Plus, they are super FUN!!

No matter where you live, you have room for a garden-in-a-pot.

Gardening in pots opens up opportunities for gardening to the MANY who do not have soil in which to garden. Pots can “go” and grow in window-sills, well-lit areas, dark areas (depending on the plant), patios, balconies, back-porches, on house-boats, etc. If you got the room for the pot you’ve got your eye on; you can have a potted garden.

You can have a garden anywhere!

Most anything can be grown in a pot!

That’s right! Trees, Shrubs, Vines, Perennials, Annuals, Water Garden Plants, Herbs and even vegetables can be grown in pots! Just make sure to keep in mind the mature size of the your plant so you fit appropriately. It isn’t uncommon to need to re-pot the same plants occasionally.

The world is full of potential pots!

And, believe me; once you start growing in pots, you will find yourself looking at everyday objects and wondering if it can be made into a pot.  You will find yourself choosing plants that work well with the texture, shape and size of your favorite “pot”

Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself. C’mon! You know it’s funny!

Check out these pots!

Look at the form and texture of this group of pots! Perfection.

Even a plastic pot can make an impact with a little help from foliage texture!

A single herb is stunning when displayed in a beautiful pot!

Pots allow for creative expression

Now that I have provided some inspiration

Tomorrow I will be asking all of the wonderful Empowering Gardeners volunteers to roll up their sleeves, get out the old pots and maybe some plant starts and plant some plants for an all raised garden to benefit…well, that’s for another post 😉