Garden clubs add azaleas to city's rose garden site

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Another season of blooms and a variety of color can be found at Rose Garden in Capaha Park with the recent addition of 84 azalea plants.

The spring flowers of "Mandarin Lights," "Coral Bells" and "Autumn Embers" line the curb and space just out front of the fenced-in rose garden. Just when they lose their coloring, it will be time for the roses to show off their blossoms in the summer months.

The azalea garden was planted not only to add color, but to showcase a plethora of azaleas and rhododendrons to the public. More than 10 varieties are on display, as well as a sugar maple tree, two pink and one white dogwood trees.

Nancy Bahn, president of the Council of Garden Clubs in Cape Girardeau, hopes to interest residents in planting azaleas and perhaps build up to Cape Girardeau's own azalea festival. Charleston is already noted for its annual azalea and dogwood festival.

"I just hope we can encourage lots of people to plant as many azaleas as possible," Bahn said.

Volunteers from garden clubs in Cape Girardeau and horticultural students at the Career and Technology Center have spent hours over the past two weeks not only planting the flowers, but also readying the soil.

Patrick Jernigan and Bryan Schott are both horticulture students who volunteered to help with the garden out of pure love for plants. And the pair didn't complain when they were handed shovels and buckets instead of pruning scissors.

"We dug all the trenches and had to fill them back in," Jernigan said. "We didn't do much of the planting."

"Just a lot of the hard work," Schott added.

Harry Bertrand, the students' horticulture professor, said "95 percent of azalea work is prep work."

Morning and afternoon shifts of students began the back-breaking work of preparing the soil two weeks ago. To create a successful environment for the azaleas, trenches were dug, weeds uprooted and soil tilled.

The last of the planting was done Monday, but work continues through the week with the installation of an underground irrigation system. Eventually the grass will fill in and several renovations will take place, such as moving the picnic table out of the rose garden and into the azalea garden.

Even while the gardeners have been working, cars drive by slowly admiring their work.

"We are very satisfied. We've had lots of positive compliments," said Bahn. "It's a wonderful addition to the park and the city."

cpierce@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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