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By Crystal Vandegrift, Staff Writer
In recent months you may have noticed the community of Cullen looking a little more beautiful.
As part of a “Keys to the Future,” Youth Grant from the Virginia Federation of Garden Clubs the Red Hill Garden Club was awarded $1000 to help with a beautification project in Cullen. But the garden club took it one step further. Members not only helped Cullen look better, but also taught area youth a valuable lesson.
“The main focus of this project was to teach youth to identify and incorporate each step in the planting process in order to produce a successful and aesthetically pleasing horticulture project, as well as, appreciate the value of being a good citizen in the community.” said garden club president Marjorie Pugh. “Motivation of youth through understanding, encouragement, and praise was a major component of the endeavor.”
As part of the grant, club members and citizens worked with youth to transform two unsightly medians into delightful gardens according to Pugh.
The intersections of Thomas Jefferson Highway, Taro Road, Dixon Road, and Virginian Road were all included in the project.
Late last year, Pugh and committee members, Felicia Scruggs, Carolyn Jolly, and Gwen Hamlet, began the process by complying with the Virginia Department of Transportation regulations. “The plan included the installment of flora that would not interfere with the vision of drivers entering the intersections,” Pugh added.
Not only did the garden club have the goal of beautifying the community’s intersections but their project also sought to clean up around businesses and the Cullen Post office.
In addition, The Virginia Department of Transpiration helped out by cleaning the bridge near the intersections and trimming and spraying unwanted grass and foliage around the bridge and guardrails as well as removing excess dirt from curbing.
According to Pugh, this was truly a community project. “We had community assistance in completing all stages of the project, including any future maintenance,” she added.
Over the span of five days, teams worked first to weed eat and spray unwanted vegetation. They tilled the soil and installed ground cloth to prevent future weed growth. The next step involved color-coded spray painting on the ground cloth to indicate the layout for specific plants in the garden. Over the course of two days, they planted two crepe myrtles, forty Lariope plants, twenty-five Stella D’Oro lilies, and forty-one Fire Power Nandinas.
During the three days of preparation and installation, grant funds supplied beverages, snacks, and lunch for workers. Hoses and sprinklers purchased with grant funds were used to irrigate the new plantings, sometimes twice daily during the extreme weather. In addition, two local residents supplied water sources and the Cullen Volunteer Fire Department also stepped in to help watered the plant beds.
Once completed, donated mulch was spread on the gardens. “Each step of the process involved supervised “hands-on” learning for the youth,” said Pugh.
The Red Hill Garden Club members wish to thank everyone who helped to make this proposal turn into a reality. “This is a “dream come true indeed,” said Pugh.
The members wish to acknowledge and express their special appreciation to the following participants that made this project a success: Billie Sue Bryant; Leslie Mock; Brick Goldman and family; Shelia Brinkley and children, Colleen, Tori and Collin; Lily Woodfin; David Davis; Adam and Joseph Layne; Claire, Lauren and Lindsay Locke; Jenny Elder; Bobby Herman; David Elder; Billy Walker, Garyson Hamlett and the Cullen Fire Department; Larry Shook; Haywood Hamlet; Bernard Schipper; Christin and Andy Jackson; Claudia Koch; Susanne Lawson; Chris Robinette; Ryan Craighead; Amadeo Upshur; and Hashim Davis.