Staff Blogger: Lexie Digby, Marketing & Graphic Design Manager

Long before these April showers began, Lakeside’s Master Gardener Loretta Wilken has been working hard to make sure that Lakeside can look its best long after the May flowers make their first appearance.

Last fall, Wilken and the Grounds Crew planted nearly 1,500 daffodil bulbs, along with hundreds of giant alliums and petite grape hyacinths. Some of these will stay to be enjoyed all summer long, while the spring bulbs will be dug up and stored to replant in the fall.

“Some surprise gardens will be scattered throughout the community,” she said. “Take a stroll and discover some colorful treasures, starting with newly accented beds at Hoover Auditorium.”

With the weather warming up, the Grounds Crew is preparing the final steps. Once the gardens thaw, more than 4,000 lbs. of soil conditioner will be spaded into the gardens. The greenhouse will be cleaned, and pots will be painted and prepped for more than 130 container gardens throughout the grounds. If you’d like to get involved with preparing these, volunteer for Spring Cleanup Day on Saturday, April 29.

This summer, the community is invited to participate in gardening at Lakeside in a special way.

“I’m excited about several new programs,” Wilken said. “Everyone is encouraged to help create and plant a butterfly garden at the Rhein Center during the Monarch Madness program on Saturday, May 27.”

There are also new gardening programs being offered to the community this summer. An “Ask a Gardener” booth will be set up at the Farmers’ Market on Tuesday mornings where Wilken will be available to answer gardening questions. On Thursday mornings, a Get Growing! program will offer seminars and walking tours to cover topics such as flower arrangements, herb preservation, fairy garden assembly, pruning, blooming hydrangeas and more.

“I can’t say enough about our dedicated gardening team of Vern, Lloyd, Doug and Melvin,” she said. “Gardening can be such a rewarding and therapeutic experience. If anyone would like to get their hands (and knees) dirty in the gardens, volunteers are always welcome and appreciated!”

With her first of year at Lakeside under her belt, Wilken is grateful for the generous and supportive community she has encountered, as well as the opportunity to create more beautiful gardens and work towards some sustainability efforts.

“My goal is to make Lakeside a garden destination,” she said.