The Livermore Amador Valley Garden Club never hesitates to dig right in to maintain public gardens but keeping the plants at their blooming best also takes money.
So, members were thrilled to learn in January that they'd been awarded a Plant America Grant of $1,000 from National Garden Clubs Inc to renovate the Hansen Park Rose Garden in Livermore.
"The National Garden Clubs always receives hundreds of funding applications so LAVGC was pleased to receive the maximum amount granted," longtime member Dolores Bengtson said.
Dana Boyd, who heads the rose garden maintenance with Gayle Pawloski, wrote the proposal to replace 36 rose bushes in the garden that had died or become "worn out." The application needed to demonstrate local support, funds, labor and materials, and show the resulting project was plant-related.
The small island park, on First Street where it meets Holmes Street, features the rose garden, a fountain, a sculpture and an old-fashioned wagon on display.
"It's a city park, and we were asked about 10 or 11 years ago if we would help take care of it," recalled Boyd.
She and Lois Barber headed up the maintenance for many years until Barber, who just turned 90, recently handed over her reins to Pawloski although she continues to volunteer.
The rose garden is home to a great variety, and efforts are being made for replacements of the original species. Now 39 new plants have been purchased and the total at Hansen Park will be 460 rose bushes, Boyd said.
Some of the rose bushes have been affected by the canopies and roots of the deodar cedar and redwood trees in the park, Boyd also noted.
"Alden Lane Nursery helped us to choose roses that would do well in that specific environment," Boyd said.
Support from the local community includes both Western Garden Nursery and Alden Lane giving substantial discounts and donations, rose fertilizer donated by Kellogg Garden Products, and Bumper Crop soil amendments courtesy of W.C. Stone. Livermore Parks Department will provide the heavy labor.
"They are removing the diseased and diminished roses, and they will dig the new holes for us," Boyd said. "We always do the pruning and put the trimmings on tarps, and then the city comes later and disposes of the trimmings."
In normal years, Boyd said, garden club members donate 576 hours a year to maintain Hansen Park Rose Garden. Last year, with the pandemic and the smokey air conditions due to fires, the club worked a total of 300.
"Everyone can work in their own separate area," Boyd explained, wearing masks and distancing. "We use our own tools and trimmers."
"I love the garden, as do the other people who work there," Boyd added, and she often sees drivers enjoying the roses from their cars as they halt for the stoplights. "It's a little beauty spot to bring a bit of nature to people in their cars. I also see people go through with strollers, and they will pick up their babies and let them smell the roses."
The new rose plants are being cosseted at Alden Lane for a few weeks, and planting day was scheduled for Saturday.
"We are hoping to get a great turnout from the garden club to mix the soil amendments and plant the roses," Boyd said. "We can beautify America, one little park at a time."