For close to 20 years Wimberg Landscaping has been gardening in public spaces: most specifically, the Adopt-a-Plot Focal Garden at Ault Park. A local resident, Peter Wimberg finds himself at Ault Park almost daily, and saw a need in the Focal Garden. “I believe at that time the park was tending to the Focal Garden, but because it was in the Adopt-a-Plot section, an area designed and maintained by volunteers, they were looking for this garden to be a volunteer space, too,” Peter recalls.
A professional landscaper by trade and inspired by the entrance gardens at The Cloisters, a five-star resort on the Georgia coast, Peter saw an opportunity to create something wonderful in the large Focal Garden. “My original planting was greatly inspired by the The Cloister landscaping team who changed their garden beds every six weeks with fresh annuals. Their amazing displays of color: orange, blue and yellow was the design inspiration the first few years for the Focal Garden.”
The size of the space was also a consideration. Considerably larger than the gardens running the length of the garden walks, Peter felt a company would be better suited to finance and maintain the generous garden space. While it has been a fun project over the years, it’s also, Peter shares, “a ‘give back to the community’ inspired decision, and a great place to experiment with annuals, perennials and grasses.”
Jennifer Smith, a member of the Wimberg Landscaping team, has also been gardening in public spaces. She agrees with Peter’s belief that gardening in public spaces is a wonderful experience and something every gardener should try for at least a year or two. Gardening in public spaces affords you the opportunity take on a garden style or plants you otherwise would not. Public institutions such as the Cincinnati Zoo and the Civic Garden Center are in need of garden volunteers. Such places often have learning centers, libraries and horticulture experts on hand, affording garden volunteers even more learning opportunities.
But public gardening does have its drawbacks. “There is a lot that is out of your hands when you tend a public garden space,” Jennifer shares. “Minor theft and vandalism is common as is eager park goers who offer unsupervised help with less than desirable results. But I can honestly say that the interaction with park visitors, talking about gardening, answering questions about plants, offering the impromptu tour of the gardens from time-to-time and the thank yous and compliments we all receive for our work in the park more than makes up for any minor aggravations.”