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Gardening with Friends

An Interview with PCA Gardener, Mary Ann Shultz

On the trail across from light pole 107, you’ll find the garden tended by Mary Ann Shultz and her friends Joyce Seng, Sandy Swift and Sheila Tranel. For four years these ladies have been cultivating this plot of native hollyhocks, beardstongue, purple coneflower, wild geranium, and black-eyed Susans.

“There are some plants we don’t have a clue what they are, but they are beautiful,” Mary Ann admits. When they began, the garden was filled with rattlesnake master, a native prairie plant. “Sheila Harms, a master gardener,” Mary Ann adds, “offered us a bunch of other plants to add color and variety.”

Early in the spring these four friends spend an hour or so “removing old plants, weeding, and digging around the perimeter for a nice clean edge,” says Mary Ann. The maintenance crew provides them mulch which aids in retaining moisture and keeping the weeds in check throughout the growing season.

“The first year we had to haul water to the plot,” Mary Ann remarks. “We’ve been very lucky the past few years and haven’t had to water the plants.”

Mary Ann Shultz, Joyce Seng, Sandy Swift, and Sheila Tranel

As far as regular maintenance, Mary Ann stresses that it is not hard or time-consuming. The four gardeners keep an eye on the plot when walking or biking the trail. If they see some weeds, they stop to pull them. If it looks like the weeds are taking over, they text each other and set up a “garden date.” Mary Ann says they all use the trail and like to see it looking beautiful and kept up, so volunteering in this way seemed a natural way to contribute.

“We enjoy chatting with each other while working,” says Mary Ann. “It’s also fun to hear people using the trail say, ‘Thank you!’ as they pass by.”

Besides riding and walking on the trail, Joyce Seng sews, does various arts and crafts, and spends time with her family, including two grandkids. Sandy and Sheila share interests in walking, biking, playing pickleball, golfing and grandkids, while Mary Ann likes cooking, walking, baking, as well as participating in yoga, a ukulele group, and church activities. She also can be found, as she puts it, “visiting her four kids and teen grandchildren who live all over the place.”

The women first embarked on this gardening adventure when Joyce commented on the beauty of the gardens to Gene Weber while she was biking on the trail. Gene asked if she’d like to care for one of the plots. Well, that led to Joyce asking Mary Ann and Sheila to garden with her, and Sandy joined later.

“We think it’s one of the easiest volunteer jobs, and it gives us a lot of pleasure,” Mary Ann states. If anyone wants to care for a garden plot, she suggests, “Start out small, so it’s not more than you can manage and expand as you learn more.” She also mentions it’s a good idea to ask a couple friends to join you because it makes it so much easier and more fun to boot.

Mary Ann sees gardening time as bonding time. “Aren’t friends great!” she says.

Note: If taking care of a garden plot sounds like something you might be interested in, please go to “Get Involved" on this site and complete a volunteer form. We have this lovely community resource thanks to all the PCA volunteers who keep the trail looking beautiful.

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