Master Gardener Volunteers Design Art Garden for Orchard Park

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By Deborah Pilkington, Master Gardener℠ Volunteer of Durham County

Located in Orchard Park near downtown Durham, (1000 S. Duke Street), this new garden is a collaborative effort between Durham Parks and Recreation Mature Adults program and the Master Gardener program of Durham County.

DPR approached the program for help with designing and planting a garden that would be a visually appealing place for artists to sketch, paint or photograph. The garden design would also serve as inspiration for gardeners to re-create at home, and the steps in making the garden would be posted on the DPR blog. And of course it would attract and support pollinators.

Installing the Garden

First, the shape of the garden was determined using garden house, and cardboard was laid down to suppress weeds. The cardboard was wet down, then covered with mulch for the winter. Because DPR wished a garden that would change over time, most plants chosen were annuals, and to save money, many were started from seed.

Annuals include Gomphrena globosa of two varieties, ’Nana’ and ‘Fireworks’, Pelargonium ‘Vancouver Centennial’, Plectranthus scutellarioidesBasella rubra (Red Malabar spinach), grown on the trellis, Amaranthus tricolor splendens ‘Perfecta’, Zinnia elegans, and  and Cosmos bipinnatus Sonata™ mixture. Perennial plantings include Echinacea purpurea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’, Oenothera fructicosa, pink Muhlenbergia capillaris.

On a beautiful April day, edging was installed, soil brought in to elevate the garden, and a trellis and boulder installed. The majority of plants were installed after the last frost date had passed.

The Art Class

The garden was dedicated on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. The first art class, arranged by DPR, was an acrylic painting class for mature adults from Durham’s Walltown community, held on June 17.

Master Gardener℠ volunteers in Durham County were on hand to answer questions the participants might have about the plants, and the participants did a beautiful job; some having never painted before. One poignant comment from a participant to another was, “We survived the pandemic, and look where we are today. Painting flowers.”

All photos by Deborah Pilkington