Perennial event brings community together

By  Andrea Tomkins – 

Hampton-Iona residents have come together to beautify their local park. This perennial project began with a plant swap and some unwelcome graffiti on Iona Park’s field house.

Wesley Avenue resident, Eileen Hunt, spearheaded the development of the flowerbeds.

Wesley Avenue resident, Eileen Hunt, brought together her neighbours to beautify their local park. There’s a special tulip-planting event planned for September 30 too. Photo by Andrea Tomkins
Wesley Avenue resident, Eileen Hunt, brought together her neighbours to beautify their local park. There’s a special tulip-planting event planned for September 30 too. Photo by Andrea Tomkins

Eileen traces her involvement back to a forum of the Canadian Garden Council in 2016 and a discussion of activities to mark Ottawa Garden Days, an annual event designed to encourage friendship and community through our shared garden culture.

“That year, on Wesley, we decided we’d have a plant swap,” says Eileen. “And lots of the neighbours participated.” The question arose about what to do with the leftover donations. The solution was simple: plant them around the outbuildings in the park to create a natural, not to mention, beautiful, perimeter to prevent vandalism and tagging.

It’s a busy park and is growing in popularity.

“It’s a very active park, with organized recreational soccer games over the summer and local families,” says neighbour, Kit Dinning. “It’s changed a lot, there are a lot more kids today than there were 10 years ago because of the turnover in the homes.”

More work on the Iona Park garden took place at the Spring Festival this past June. There was another plant swap and once again, leftover plants were added to newly expanded flowerbeds.

The Hampton Iona Community Association also bought plants, along with soil and planters. Patio stones were also brought in to protect the garden from the city’s massive lawn mowers.

One of the group’s biggest projects is coming up in the fall, although the impact of it won’t be felt until after the snow melts in the spring. The group ordered 500 yellow World Friendship Tulips for a mass-planting event on September 30 between 10 and 11:30 a.m.

In 2018, the theme of the Canadian Tulip Festival will be: “One World – One Tulip.” This special breed of yellow tulip will be featured in flower beds across Ottawa.

“The initiative is nationwide, and the tulip is a symbol of world peace,” says Eileen. “Collectively, we will do our bit.”

Eileen is hoping 50 volunteers will come forward and each help plant 10 tulips on the big day. Participants will also be sent home with a “handful” of World Friendship Tulip bulbs for their own gardens. There will also be yoga in the park that day, as well as free refreshments.

“We’re trying to welcome new people and show them what an active community we are,” says Eileen. “The community garden is an active, social activity that fosters community pride.”

 A few of the Iona Park gardeners (from left to right): Lorne Cutler, Mira Svoboda, Marg Hillier, Eileen Hunt, Kit Dinning, Bonnie Dinning. Other contributors to the gardening initiative (not pictured here), include Mary-Lou Davies, Vi Lowe, Judith Shane, Joan Ramsay, Yvonne Hunt, Linda Moran, Wayne Walters, Leslie Bricker, Jen Demers, Ken Hoffman, and Sjors Reijers. Photo by Andrea Tomkins
A few of the Iona Park gardeners (from left to right): Lorne Cutler, Mira Svoboda, Marg Hillier, Eileen Hunt, Kit Dinning, Bonnie Dinning.
Other contributors to the gardening initiative (not pictured here), include Mary-Lou Davies, Vi Lowe, Judith Shane, Joan Ramsay, Yvonne Hunt, Linda Moran, Wayne Walters, Leslie Bricker, Jen Demers, Ken Hoffman, and Sjors Reijers. Photo by Andrea Tomkins

Area resident and volunteer, Mary-Lou Davies, puts it this way: “My son grew up in this park, playing on the swings and in the sand in the summer and skating on the rink in the winter, and I am delighted to see that the community has created this lovely garden. It creates a beautiful space for all ages to enjoy this park. I am very grateful to Eileen for creating this garden and for inviting me to join her.”

The Hampton-Iona Community Association is always looking for volunteers. For details, and information about upcoming events – including a moderated chat about the future of Kitchissippi ward with Councillor Jeff Leiper on October 18 – go to hamptoniona.wordpress.com.


Community-wide flower show?

During the World Tulip Summit held in Istanbul, Turkey in 2015, the World Friendship Tulip was officially baptised and now serves as the international symbol of peace and friendship.

The World Friendship Tulip will be the focal point of the 2017 World Tulip Summit, which is taking place in Ottawa this fall. Joining in these celebrations, the theme of the 2018 Canadian Tulip Festival is “One World – One Tulip” and will prominently feature this special flower throughout mass plantings in the nation’s capital.

Veseys is offering Canadian gardeners the opportunity to purchase this soft, creamy-yellow Darwin Hybrid through a special arrangement with Dutch grower, Klass Peter de Geus.

Everyone is invited to take part in this global initiative and join Canada’s heartfelt expression for world peace and friendship by including this specimen in their garden. (Info via veseys.com)

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