President’s Message (09/10)

September’s rain has prompted heated conversation. My kids, typical Northwesties, love the gray, rainy, fall weather. They want to slip on their sweaters and coats and get out of the sun. I resist. I want more heat. I want to wear shorts and go barefoot while I putter around my yard thinking about what to add, change, or replace. This year the weather seems unique, but September always brings a difference of opinion. Every year I hear how MGs have put their gardens to bed for the winter, typically just when my garden is looking its best and only hinting at its winter beauty.

When other MGs have gone inside with their last green tomatoes, I’m still wandering around, enjoying the Cyclamen hederifoliums popping up, marveling at the color of Parrotia persica ‘Vanessa,’ and awaiting the bloom of Grevillea miquelliana that starts in November and Daphne bholua in December. I know many MGs will spend the wet autumn inside, but I’ll be bent over in the rain hunting slugs and snails. We garden for different reasons, in different times of year or even states of mind, and each season brings its own reward. We must remember when we’re serving the public that we live in a place that offers year ‘round gardening opportunities. What are we missing by sticking to our patterns?

Our programs seem similar; many of our clinics convene only in the summer at farmers’ markets, or other seasonal venues. Many of our gardens accomplish the bulk of their work in the warmest months, and shift down to fewer jobs in the colder seasons. It isn’t true of all clinics or gardens, however, that they go dormant for the winter. I’ve enjoyed my years at the Washington Park Arboretum clinic as people come every weekend all year to get their questions answered and to enjoy what the arboretum has to offer. Cesar Chavez Demo Garden folks are happy to show you the garden in summer, when food is growing everywhere and they’re donating to local food banks, but they, and other gardens offer opportunities throughout the year for volunteers as well as for the public. As a result, Foundation funding has been changing in the past few years. We’ve been trying to find ways to make it equitable to offer the same funds to clinics that operate year ‘round as we do to clinics that meet for a few months in the summer. This year we instituted a requirement that clinics meet for six months to qualify for full Foundation funding. We’ve also begun an evaluation process for our gardens to ensure that Foundation funds are being used in gardens where the goals of both the gardeners and the public we serve are being met. Fall slows many MGs down after clinics close and gardens are cover-cropped, but the board and its committees will be busy planning next year’s budget as well as working on plans for better, more effective public outreach next year and in years to come. Any MG is welcome to all board meetings, every 2nd Thursday of the month, typically at CUH, at 6:30. Or, if you have interest in a specific committee or project, please contact a board member and they’ll help find the appropriate contact.

This fall, I encourage you to change your pace, to go visit something you haven’t seen in a while. Fall seems a lovely time to visit Thyme Patch Park in Ballard, or the Tribal Life Trail at Lake Wilderness Arboretum in Maple Valley, or Cesar Chavez to see what they’re up to. If you have some time left over some weekend, stop by the Washington Park Arboretum to say hi to the MGs who will be there waiting for questions, conversation, and the chance to take you out to smell the katsuras.

Sam Mitchell




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