Atlanta gardeners share their talents with the public in Atlanta Garden Walk
Route 66 Park & Olympia School

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[July 01, 2016]   ATLANTA - On Saturday, those who braved the 94-degree heat were in for a big treat as local homeowners in the Atlanta area opened their lawns for garden tours. The tour event was a fundraiser for the Atlanta Flower Buds garden club and the Olympia Spartans gardeners.

The day began at 10 a.m. with the first stop being at the Route 66 Park in downtown Atlanta. There, members of the Flower Buds were selling tickets to the tour and handing out programs that gave brief explanations of each of the homes guests would visit.

Including the stop at the park, there were ten locations plus PrairiErth Farm in rural Atlanta that was added after the programs were printed. Of the 11 total, three were inside city limits, and three were located in the country, just outside of town.

Route 66 Park

At the park, the members of the Flower Buds also talked about the work they do around about Atlanta. The club does all the plantings and potted plants in the park, but they have a large space near the Atlanta Fire Department they take care of and several other smaller projects scattered about the town.

They noted that the money they raised on Saturday was for no particular project, but would assist in purchasing plants for future seasons.

For those who may never have been, the Route 66 Park is the walled in green space across the road from the Atlanta Public Library. It is a very well-groomed setting with historical items such as the ceramic drinking fountain installed in 1934, and the 1870 marker stone for the Atlanta school. There are picnic tables in the park and plenty of shade, making it a pleasant place to be, even on a very hot day.

Olympia School

The next stop on the tour was the Olympia School, where students in grades Pre-K through fifth care for a garden ten months of the year, including when school is not in session in the summertime.

The garden was started in 2000 by teacher Sandra Snyder. Snyder wanted to give her students an opportunity to observe nature and work at maintaining a growing project. The garden was designed as an attraction for butterflies. In 2003, Snyder retired, and a special plaque was placed at the garden commemorating her contribution to the school and the students.

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Today, the garden is supervised by Laura Simonton. Simonton said there are approximately 70 students who participate in the garden project, and she noted that some are so dedicated to it, that they go weeding during their recess time.

In addition, it is also a nature learning project for all the students, Simonton pointed out that the fourth-graders taking care of and observing the changes in the garden fulfills a requirement of the Illinois Education Standards.

Simonton said that their portion of the fundraiser would go to the club’s fencing project. She noted that while the split wood fence looks as it should, it is very weak and shaky and poses a safety hazard for the children.

The goal is to replace the fence with a vinyl one. This spring the school received a grant from the Atlanta Betterment Fund for the project, so the money earned on Saturday will be added to that. She said the school district has also offered to match funds so with each dollar received they come closer to having the new fence they need.

Simonton noted that many of the parents also support the garden through donations of various items. Specifically, she noted some heavy rubber edging that was given to the garden.

Inside the garden, there are a variety of plants in small beds, and it is well adorned with lawn ornaments that reflect the life and personality of a child.

The center of the garden features two large benches where visitors can take a seat and enjoy their surroundings. Simonton noted that the Atlanta Betterment Fund had also played a large part in having those benches at the park.

[Nila Smith]

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