Park City Gardens has been beautifying Merrill for 21 years with flower beds all over the community. This year, the group expanded their efforts with a couple of new projects, one at the triangle next to the historic former City Hall building and another along the new retaining wall on East First Street.
The triangle bed features a sculpture created by Fillmore Metal Crafters of Merrill. The triangle, which divides Hwy. 64, is under the control of the Wisconsin DOT. Park City Gardens got the DOT’s permission to construct the bed and install the sculpture.
Brenda Felber, who grew up in the Merrill area and recently returned, took on the task of creating the new flower bed in the triangle. She got involved through Park City Gardens board member Donna Block, a former teacher of Brenda’s.
“When I moved back here I wanted to do something in the community and they needed someone to do that bed,” Felber said.
Brenda said she plans to continue caring for the triangle next year.
The group had formerly planted a bed at the old City Hall triangle, but the rebuilding of Hwy. 64 through Merrill several years ago put those efforts on hold. This was the first year since the road reconstruction that a bed was planted in the triangle.
The city Street Department added signage to alert motorists to the curve.
“The city put up curve signs to keep people from running over the flower bed,” Mari said.
Merrill Federal Savings & Loan donated $450 for the sculpture and flower bed at the old City Hall.
“We’re 100% community owned and we try to support local functions as much as possible,” said bank president Mark Zuleger. “We’ve been supporting this group of years.”
The retaining wall project was spearheaded by D’Lacey Haight, co-owner of Merrill Ace Hardware. She was recruited by Park City Gardens after they saw what a wonderful job she did with plantings on the Ace property across the street, Mari said.
Haight said she collaborated with Lynn Zentner and others to procure the plants for the project.
“I did every other section in donated plants,” Haight said.
The city brought in quality soil to fill the planter portion of the wall and bark for mulch.
Haight said she was glad to be part of the project.
“I feel passionate about it,” she said. “This is an amazing corridor, it speaks to how invested we are in our community.”
The First Street retaining wall will be decorated with evergreens for the holidays.
About 50 Park City Gardens volunteers work in the 25 beds around town. Each bed may be handled by an individual or a group. Volunteers often help with each other’s beds.
“We’ve given our volunteers free reign of what to do with their beds,” Mari Nelson said.
Park City Gardens celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011, planting over 2,000 daffodil bulbs in the flower beds.
The group’s activities are mainly supported through donations. There are about 25 flower banks at businesses in the community to collect donations for Park City Gardens. The banks are put out in early spring and collected in the fall. The banks are regularly refurbished and decorated by local school children.
From donations collected, volunteers are allocated up to $100 per flower bed. Many add their own money to the allocation for their bed. Park City Gardens gets a discount from area nurseries for plants.
The city of Merrill has assisted both Park City Gardens, along with the Hanging Flower Basket project, with watering. However, the watering vehicle broke down this year and the groups are currently discussing the options for a new vehicle with the city’s Park and Recreation Commission. The Park and Recreation Department budgets for someone to do the watering.
“The biggest hurdle is finding a vehicle that can accommodate the water tank,” Mari said.
The Board of Public Works and the city Street Department have been very supportive of Park City Gardens, Mari said.
“The city has been very generous,” she added.
The Park City Gardens web site can be accessed through the City of Merrill’s web site or directly at parkcitygardens.weebly.com.
The Park City Gardens board of directors includes Donna Block, Donna Simek, Jean Howick, Sarah Williams, Lynn Reindl, Kathy Wulf, Helene Ader, Ginny Drew, Eva Sukow, Mari Nelson, Linda Plautz and Joyce Kasper.
Despite drought conditions during the summer, due to the diligence of the volunteers and the city’s watering efforts, “the flowers looked exceptional this year,” Block said.
Park City Gardens would appreciate if the public would not place signs – such as those advertising garage sales – in or near the flower beds. No signs may be placed in the old City Hall triangle, according to Department of Transportation rules.