A year later: Gardens as healing art in Edmonds

Volunteers spiff up Veterans Plaza for Memorial Day
By Maria Montalvo | May 27, 2018
Courtesy of: Shannon McIntire, SLI Photography Mike Schindler plants flowers at Edmonds Veterans Plaza.

One year ago, the Edmonds Veterans Plaza was dedicated on Memorial Day to honor all veterans, past, present and future.

A few years earlier, veterans from the Edmonds’ Veterans of Foreign Wars Edmonds 8870 and the Edmonds post of the American Legion, and other Edmonds citizens, realized the city was the only one of its size in the state of Washington without a park or space dedicated to veterans.

The Edmonds Veterans Plaza, at Fifth Avenue North and Bell Street, is a testament to the transformative power of community partnerships or, in other words, when motivated people get together to accomplish good things.

On Thursday, May 24, just in time for Memorial Day, the city of Edmonds Parks Department and local volunteers from the Edmonds Veterans Plaza committee gathered to plant flowers across the plaza.

This is the second year in a row that volunteers joined the city to beautify this space.

“The plaza is meant to be a place for veterans to connect with each other, finding ways to heal themselves and each other,” Veterans Plaza committee chairman Ron Clyborne said.

“It is also a place where all members of the community, veterans and non-veterans, can come together to gain a greater understanding of each other.”

That’s where the plants come in.

A city crew, including Debra Dill, met the group of volunteers (Plaza Committee members Jim Traner, Mike Schindler, Bob Rinehart, Strom Peterson and Maria Montalvo, as well as local volunteers Erin Mathias, Chuck Smith, Kitty Miele, and Joan Smith – the last two of the Woodsound Garden Club) to put in a variety of colorful annual flowers, all grown right here in Edmonds.

Dill works as a senior parks maintenance worker/horticulturist in the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department. She earned her arborist certification a few years ago, and when you listen to her talk about plants and flowers, you can tell just how much knowledge she has.

“The flowers we are planting today were grown in the city’s greenhouses,” Dill said. “We raise them by seed or by plug. Although we did order the rose shrubs called Top Gun, a tough varietal with bright red blossoms, to pay homage to the plaza’s theme.”

Many in Edmonds are familiar with the hanging flowers baskets and corner parks that come alive each spring with gorgeous and colorful flowers. City staff grow all the plants and perform all of the design and maintenance for 36 sites, in addition to parks across the city.

More than 20,000 plants planted each spring are selected to survive extreme weather conditions in Edmonds.

The beautiful design of the Edmonds Veterans Plaza and its plants is also important for another reason.

Growing Veterans, a nonprofit organization based in Washington that supported the initial garden installation at the plaza last year, brings veterans together through gardening to reduce veteran suicides and create opportunities for purpose and camaraderie.

Planting cultivates hope – research has shown that the very action of planting a seed creates that hope.

The plaza is a welcoming, natural environment that is educational and appealing to all members of the community, including children, and the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department and a few dedicated volunteers are making sure that it continues to invite people together every year.

 

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