ROGERSVILLE — The masters were at work Thursday morning in front of the historic Rogersville Depot Museum, beginning a two-part restoration of a dilapidated flower garden that had been overtaken by weeds and decay.
The Hawkins County Master Gardeners Association (HCMGA) is volunteering labor and materials to bring the Depot's flower garden display adjacent to Depot Street up to the level of other public gardens in Rogersville that are maintained by the city.
In fact, Rogersville horticulturalist Sandy Robillard, who maintains the flower gardens in the downtown area — including Courthouse Square, is advising the HCMGA on how to keep the Depot garden aesthetically consistent with the rest of Rogersville's public gardens.
The Depot is a Hawkins County owned building, and that's why the landscaping isn't maintained by the city.
Although the Depot is owned by the county, it is leased to the Rogersville Heritage Association for its offices and the Tennessee Newspaper and Printing Museum.
It’s also located in a high profile area at the corner of Broadway Street and Depot Street, kitty-corner from Rogersville City School. That’s one reason HCMGA president Denise Parker decided the Depot’s flower garden needed their help.
“I saw this bed that needed some attention, and I thought, wouldn't that be a fabulous opportunity for the Master Gardeners,” Parker said. “There were several levels of approval we had to go through, and I hadn't had time to do that, but the Heritage Association through the goodness of their hearts went through the levels of approval for me and came back and said, ‘We'd love to have you do this.’ ”
Among the master gardeners working on the project Thursday were Parker, project coordinator Joanne Irvin, Martha Simeri, Kim Arnold and Elizabeth Price.
“At one time there were flowers here, and it just got neglected,” Irvin said. “Weeds grew up, and then somebody came in and sprayed it with Roundup, so there was really nothing here except a lot of plant carcasses. This (Thursday) morning we dug out the old timbers, we amended the soil — we put in a cube of soil mix, four bags of soil conditioner and three quarters of a bag of vermiculite. Denise rototilled it up beforehand and rototilled it again after we applied everything, and now we're putting in new timbers just to keep the soil from falling out.”
After getting the new timbers in place, they applied Preen, and they will let the soil rest for about a month before doing the fall planting around Oct. 1.
Aside from assisting with the plant list, Robillard also contributed the recipe for restoring the soil.
Among the plants going in at the first of October are Tropicana Gold, Black and Blue Salvia, Cleomie and a variety of Daylillies from Parker's personal garden called “Cheyene Spirit.”
“Everyone is donating plants, and the Master Gardeners (Association) has budgeted some money for this project,” Irvin added.
Aside from adopting the Depot flower garden, the HCMGA has also adopted the Price Public Community Center flower gardens, and they maintain a vegetable garden at the Rogersville Presbyterian Church.
The timing for the Depot project is right because the the museum recently reopened to the public, and RHA director Melissa Nelson has indicated that the Depot will begin hosting events again soon.