The Arbor Day 2020 Award of Excellence, presented by the Williamsburg Area Council of Garden Clubs has been awarded to the Foundation Square Landscaping Committee and its President, Jim Kavitz. The award recognizes those who have made a difference to the environment in attractive landscaping, especially the planting and preservation of trees. The award ceremony will take place on March 13th at the Community Building on North Boundary Street.
The nomination submitted for the award is included below.
One need look no further than the vivid red and pink vincas intermingled with sweet potato vines as their brilliantly veined leaves cascade from the retaining wall along Foundation Street, or the sea of buttery yellow daffodils blanketing the eastern parking area in the spring, or the meticulously labeled vegetables and herbs awaiting harvest by an unknown visitor in the garden at the north end of Foundation Square to recognize that nature has had some help in creating such stunning sights, and that help is the Foundation Square Landscape Committee.
This committee was established about 6 years ago and is made up of residents of Foundation Square who volunteer their time, and sometimes their money, to enhance the landscaping provided by the developer. Foundation Square is a multi-use building in New Town with commercial businesses on the first floor, residential condos on the top three floors, and a clock tower that overlooks Legacy Hall. The committee started with just a few residents getting together: those who have downsized and missed having a yard or garden, or those who just wanted to get their hands dirty while improving our landscape. Over the years the committee has grown from that small handful to over ten regularly participating members today. They all love nature and the beauty of the gardens that they have established and continue to care for, and they love that the community can enjoy the fruits of their labors as well.
The committee members meet periodically to plan the spring and fall plantings, incorporating plants that have been donated for their use. For example, there are currently over 2,000 daffodils planted around the building that were donated by residents and planted by the committee. A daffodil festival is held each April. The group has also addressed overlooked places by enhancing the ‘woodsy’-ness of the earthen strip in the parking lot between the building and adjacent Iron-Bound Gym and by masking the building’s vital outdoor infrastructure elements with trellises of flowering vines. Members also get together in work crews as necessary to plant, prune, and weed, and they take turns, even in the brutal heat of summer, to water the plants when rain hasn’t providing enough moisture. The members know full well that a garden’s work is never done, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.
One of the highlights of their work is the Children’s Garden which is open to any and all children (under the supervision of an adult) in the area, not just those in Foundation Square. In this garden, the committee members plant a variety of vegetables including carrots, peas, tomatoes, eggplants, and cucumbers to be enjoyed by the children and whoever else happens by and enjoys fresh produce. The plantings vary and are often changed to give the children a wider exposure to what nature has to offer. In the past, sweet corn, sunflowers, okra, and even an artichoke have been planted. It turns out, not only have some of the children never seen some of these plants grow, but a lot of the adults have not seen how these plants grow either. It gives committee members great joy to see a three year old open up a pea pod and eat the contents, often for the first time.
The committee also plants a fall garden, sometimes with cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage, garlic and collards. Several years ago they planted ten donated fig trees, which are still going strong with their tasty bounty, and the lesser known Paw Paw, which, interestingly, was one of George Washington’s favorites has a home here as well. The committee members enjoy sharing this bit of history with the garden’s guests. Some of the older residents also remember a song that goes something like “Picking up Paw Paws and putting them into a basket . . .” Additionally, near the Children’s Garden is an herb garden, which provides a wide variety of fresh herbs for everyone in the area who wants to partake of them, perhaps for enhancing a favorite savory dish. The members, who have selected, planted, and maintained the herbs, love to share. The herb garden with its rock pathways, reminiscent of the one by the Bruton Parish Hall, is a hit with the small children who love to help “relocate” the rocks on occasion. Actually, the most popular feature of the “Children’s Garden” is the rocks, and young children are often seen playing there. Benches are provided near the garden, and parents and their little ones often rest and even have a picnic there. One of our frequent young visitors picks mint, which his mother uses to make “mint water” for him. Another of the young visitors, about 2 or 2 ½ years old, knows the name of every herb and can identify them easily by himself.
Some who enjoy the surroundings are those who sit and stay a spell by the vegetable garden, as well as those who arrive a bit early for an appointment at one of the ground floor businesses to take in the pageant of colors and the entrancing fragrance, or those who, while out for an evening constitutional or a walk with the dog, pause in Sullivan Square Park to admire the splendor of the Foundation Square gardens. The grounds of Foundation Square are open to the public, and all are welcome to drop by and enjoy the flowers and the foliage.
The tireless effort and consummate dedication of the Foundation Square Landscape Committee is evident; the photos provided speak for themselves. Because of all that they have accomplished and all that I know they will continue to do to enhance our community through nature’s beauty, I am pleased and excited to nominate the Foundation Square Landscape Committee for the Arbor Day 2020 Award of Excellence.