Planting to begin in April at Jefferson Gardens
By ANDREW MCGINN
The Founding Fathers didn’t really seem like the light-hearted types, but the final plan for one of the gardens at the Thomas Jefferson Gardens of Greene County surely would’ve made even John Adams crack a smile.
A children’s garden — one of three gardens for the site designed recently by Iowa State University horticulture students — will be full of flowers bearing animal names.
There’s Pig Squeak, Lamb’s Ear, Goat’s Beard, Zebra Grass, Solomon’s Seal, Beebalm, Tickseed, Butterfly Bush and so on.
The Thomas Jefferson Gardens board approved the students’ plans at its meeting Tuesday, continuing to inch that much closer to radically transforming the high-profile corner of Lincoln Way and Chestnut Street from a parking lot into a botanical showcase.
“It’s probably not what we envisioned two years ago, but we think it looks beautiful,” Andy Krieger, co-owner of Krieger Greenhouses, reported to the board.
Under the direction of Cynthia Haynes, an associate professor of horticulture at ISU, the students recently submitted multiple plans for three of the site’s five gardens.
The local board had requested shrubs, perennials and a lot of color.
“We didn’t have to accept any of it,” board member Jeane Burk said.
Even better, the plans didn’t cost the board a dime — they were done as a class project.
The children’s garden, in particular, seemed to stand out, with board members envisioning the perfect backdrop for photo ops.
“This is really a beautiful showcase,” Krieger said.
Krieger wants to begin planting in April after he first tracks down and prices the varieties.
“I’m going to get as much seed out of Monticello as I can,” he said.
The hope is to get seeds straight from Jefferson’s fabled home.
The gardens took root two years ago to honor the city’s namesake, the Founding Father who served as the nation’s third president.
A life-sized bronze statue of Jefferson was unveiled in 2012, and will move from its temporary home in the Lincoln Building to the finished gardens.
But, the flowers are likely to be the site’s real draw.
Jefferson’s Virginia home, Monticello, remains famous for its flower gardens, orchards and vegetable garden.
The Thomas Jefferson Gardens locally will also feature a vegetable/herb garden, a farmer’s garden with historic crops of local interest and a prairie garden honoring Lewis and Clark, whose expedition of the newly purchased Louisiana Territory in 1803 — including present-day Iowa — was commissioned by Jefferson.
“It’s going to take a couple of years before it gets filled out,” Krieger said. “Hopefully, the community has the patience to wait.”
The only thorn in the garden plans would seem to be what to do with the building in the middle of it all.
The Greene County Chamber wants to convert the former bank and insurance building into a Greene County welcome center, but garden board members have heard precious little about those plans.
“Why can’t we get a firm timeline from them?” board member Mary Weaver asked.
The board wants to have the planting complete by Bell Tower Festival time in June.