Sunday, November 12, 2017

Winter is Coming

November 12, 2017:  We worked at the Healing Garden for a little while today.  We've had a little dry spell, so we, Bud and I, thought we would get some grading done on the hill.  Bud picked up a few more donated bales of hay from Nate O'Neil in Woodbury.  We've been using hay as a barrier for erosion control, it works pretty well. 

Some topsoil was moved to the center of the garden and grading was done on the hill, but not in it's entirety.  It was still pretty muddy in sections, so those areas need to dry out more before grading can be completed.

The garden doesn't look as good as it did in past weeks.  The leaves are falling from the oaks and making a mess everywhere.  This bothers me a little.  I know it's a construction site, but I really want it to look nice for people that come to see the progress.  I keep imagining what it's going to look like when it's done; I see green grass, the flowers blooming and the trees planted.  I see the new fence in and benches all in place.  I'll keep those images in my head and hope that others see that it's a work in progress when they visit.  It would break my heart to hear anyone complain at this point.

Here's what I mean by it just doesn't look so nice. Winter is on the way.

This is the hill and the overlook area that needs grading but too wet to do all at once.
On the flip side, despite the weather and the cold, the grass seed that we had such a hard time keeping down, is coming in.  It will not be a lush grass at this point but a few more good days of cool weather and warm sun should help those seeds germinate.  When grass seed freezes it doesn't germinate as well as if it were fresh. It will come up though, and it should look nice by May.

There are going to be a few more nice days of weather and I hope to take advantage of it.  I will be working on other projects for next year this week, but I'm hoping to spend a little more time at the Healing Garden.

Until next time: Patience is sometimes hard to come by when your excited about getting something done.  I need to remind myself that everything will happen as it should.  So until we meet again, I wish for you, patience.  And hope you and I have the patience we need to make what we love to do - perfect.

Let's Keep Moving

November 4, 2017:  We had another volunteer today, his name is Paul Fortier from Woodbury.  He was a hard worker!  We needed to reseed a lot of the area that we seeded due to some washout from the rain.  This time we came with bigger guns, so to speak.  We had some straw that comes in rolls that you put down on top of the grass seed.  We held it down with staples that we put in the ground and small rocks to keep it from blowing away on a windy day.  This seems to be a good solution, so let's hope for the best.

Paul raking the topsoil for the second dose of grass seed.

That's Bud Neal

Paul and Bud posing for today's photo

Grass seed down, one more time.  I think this time, we have a solution.
Special thanks to Paul for his time and work. It was a pleasure getting to know you.

Until next time:  Persistence: continuing firmly or obstinately in a course of action in spite of difficulty of opposition. source  I have learned that sometimes persistence is the only way you can be successful.  I hope your day is forward, not sideways, not backwards, but forward.  We can all use a second chance sometimes.  With a little persistence, we might just get that second chance. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Progress on the Healing Garden

Well, it's November and the garden is in continual movement.  We've had some wonderful moves forward and few tiny steps backwards, but for the most part, I'm please with the progress.  I love how Mother Nature works with you when your planning something like a garden.  Sometimes, I feel like my work can be for nothing, but I found from past experiences, that if I slow down and stop trying to control everything, mother nature will show me how to move forward.  One thing that's always in the back of my mind is that I am only a worker, like an ant or a bee, on this wonderful planet.  What I do is temporary.  Nature will always be my supervisor, there's no union or employee protection, and there is no certainty in my results.  I need to watch and listen to what the environment that I plan to alter is doing, or what I do, will be for nothing.

Our first attempt at seeding - left to right, Rita Smith, Chris Donnelly, and Bud Neal

To date, our failure has been putting grass seed down.  I pressed for seed to be placed before the rain was due around October 23rd, so Bud and I quickly made sure we had all that we needed to seed the outside portion of the garden.  Everything was down on October 22nd, and the rain came October 23rd, and it didn't stop.  Most of what we did got washed away.  While evaluating the garden after the deluge, we found the erosion areas and was able to make a new plan on how to move forward with erosion control.  About a week later we came up with a new plan.  This time we're hoping the rain will be a little more gentle and the warm weather will stick around long enough to get the grass seed started.  We'll know in a week if the change worked.

Bud Neal looking over the seeded areas

Meanwhile, while the grass implementation was being planned again, I still needed to get the gardens dug out.  The poor soil was still in two of the gardens, the largest and the smallest, and it needed to be dug out.  Luckily for me, I have a husband who has five very close friends that were willing to take on the challenge of digging and moving dirt. So on November 3rd, they all showed up and dug out those gardens.  With a lot of work and some fun, it was accomplished.  I had gotten some more compost that was donated by a composter who makes what he calls Agrimix.  I love this compost.  He was nice enough to offer what ever I need for the garden, so I got another two plus yards to put down in the gardens after the soil was dug out.  Now the gardens are ready for winter.  Mother Nature will do what she does best on weather and I'm hoping by spring, that the compost will be perfect for blending with topsoil.  Once blended, I'll have the soil tested, make a few adjustments and then planting can start.

Digging out the Scented Garden. Left to right: Joe Casorio and Jack Scalia

Digging out the Rock Garden. Left to right, Steve Wysowski, Bill Ingellis, and Pat Parente

A big thank you to all the volunteers and the generous people that have donated and worked so far.  I absolutely love the spirit that this project brings.  I know the men inside the home are out checking on our progress.  Sometimes we see them outside; they'll stay for a little while and watch us work.  Other times we see wheelchair tracks in the soil, which tells us they were out there making their rounds.  This joint effort came from one idea from Bud Neal, but it has blossomed into a community effort bringing people together for our veterans.  I'm so proud to be part of this project.

Until next time:  may the spirit of nature bring you to a good place, a garden of hope, a community of togetherness, a place to heal.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Healing Garden Dream and Start

I have a new project that is near and dear to my heart.  It's called The Healing Garden at the Connecticut Healthcare and Residential Center in Rocky Hill Connecticut.  It started about three years ago when a friend of mine, Bud Neal told me about wanting to plant a few trees at the Veterans Home in Rocky Hill.  He had been going there for years engaging the men and women that are either there short-term or living there.  He's a vet and commander of the American Legion in Woodbury, CT.  His credentials are a mile long with other avenues of business and life, but short term of it, he felt his connections would help in planting a number of trees instead of one or two which was the original plan.  He asked if I was willing to help, and of course I said yes.

After walking the area that he had chosen for the trees, he and I brainstormed an idea of a garden with five trees.  He wanted all the trees to ultimately have the branches touch showing unity.  Each tree would represent the five armed services: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.  With the help of Chris Donnelly another friend, we marked out a path and roughly marked where the trees would be planted.  I drew up a sketch of the idea and sadly the whole thing was put to bed, for a while.  From there, Bud would gently nudge the commissioner, and a few other people at the Healthcare Center.  There were a few road blocks, but three years later and two commissioners later, we got the okay to move forward with the garden.

Bud made his first phone call to a large business that he had connections with through the Army.  He was in the service with owner and Vice Chairman of O&G Industries, Inc., Ray Oneglia.  They had talked a few times and initially Ray had committed to building the walkway that would go through the garden.  When Bud made is second call to Ray to tell him we got the okay to go ahead with the job, within a few short days, and a talk with the GM of O&G, Leo Nardi, the walkway was started.  An excavator and three men were at the site at 6:30 on Wednesday morning on October 11th and construction began.

construction begins

It took about one week from start to finish for the walkway.  We needed it to be wheel chair accessible so measurements were made often.  The slope could only be a certain pitch for wheelchair access, so measuring for that was always a priority also.  We even had a few of the men and women that were in the hospital come out and try the walk before the final coat of asphalt. 

digging and checking the grade
Our test drivers and workcrew

After our test drivers gave us an evaluation, there were a few changes to be made.  We were ready for the asphalt.