A look behind the curtain

whats-nextIf you are interested in knowing more about the plans to create a Garden District in Warren, please visit Warren Expressed and read the posts from yesterday and today. Trying to keep two blogs current is becoming increasingly difficult for reasons of time, and because it’s hard to know what goes where. You may have noticed we don’t post here as often as we used to. This is because the efforts which began to create gregg’s gardens wherever we could has expanded to a variety of efforts to create the Garden District. We will never abandon this site but we will post mostly about things specific to the gregg’s gardens organization here, while the Warren Expressed site will cover things more broadly. And when in doubt we tend to post there first because the audience is quite a bit bigger.

2013 progress report

2015-08-28 06.43.152013 was a very successful year for gregg’s gardens. Our strategic partnership with Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership was expanded to include the Trumbull 100, a locally-focused group of philanthropists and community leaders. The Trumbull 100 joined the effort to revitalize Warren’s central city neighborhoods, and to help create the Garden District.

We raised more than $40,000 last year, including $10,000 in the Tom’s of Maine “50 States for Good” challenge, in which we mobilized our many supporters and captured the #1 position in the entire U.S. on Tom’s Facebook voting site.

We created more than 30 new wildflower gardens, built seven stone wall-planters made from material reclaimed from the foundations of demolished houses, put in a nice stone bench at the Atlantic and Elm garden, commissioned a beautiful outdoor mural (above) on an abandoned building on Vine Street near Porter, created an “info-porch” (below) at the corner of Belmont and Mercer and gave it the most gorgeous paint job in all of Warren.

Wait until you see what we do in 2014!

195 Belmont

New feature update

1We now have a pleasant sitting area inside the Alumni Garden at Elm & Atlantic, which includes a nice stone bench, three new stone planters and the beginnings of a birdhouse condo-community. The stone planters have been filled with better soil and will be planted soon with tall grasses and wildflowers, which will give the garden added elevation and visual interest.

We thank all our donors for their continued support, and in particular the anonymous donor who made the bench possible. Finally, a big shout out to Frank Ortzen-Abbott who built these planters entirely alone and by hand, plus installed the bench and built the condo frame, which will be painted shortly.

Please stop by and visit this lovely and tranquil oasis in the heart of Warren.

Behold the flowers

2015-09-05 01.40.09If you haven’t already, please stop by the garden at Elm and Atlantic across from Harding. Park in the high school lot and walk over to really appreciate the garden. These are a few snapshots I took today. This garden was planted with plugs – baby plants. All the others were seeded and are a year behind, so this is how they will look next year.

The soil in that lot was very poor and you will notice a couple of large bare spots where we will soon be building stone raised beds that will be filled with better soil and planted with more seeds so that eventually we will have several elevations of flowers there which should look very nice. Next week our bench will be installed.2015-09-05 01.39.38

Come enjoy the garden while the lovely weather envelops us.2015-09-05 01.39.29

Fund raising update

money.flowerFunds raised in 2013 are just a few dollars shy of $30,000. Our goal for the year is $50,000. I can’t honestly tell you I know where the next $20,000 will come from but we have a third of the year left and we are optimistic.

The original plan was to raise most of the money from private individuals but this proved to be a flawed strategy pretty quickly; fortunately we figured it out in time to change to a strategy of approaching foundations for grants. This yielded large gifts from Trumbull 100, The Raymond John Wean Foundation, PNC Bank Foundation and the Dominion Foundation.

We struck out with the Youngstown/Warren Chamber of Commerce, the Trumbull County Community Foundation and the General Motors Foundation. We are waiting to hear back on several others and are working on several new applications.

Writing grant applications is not particularly difficult but it is time-consuming. If there is anyone reading this who would like to join the gregg’s gardens/Garden District cause this is an area where we could use some help. You can do it from home on your own time. Write to info@warrenexpressed.org if your want to know more.

Everything starts with a plan. Come see our plan for creating the 22-square block Warren Garden District next Tuesday August 20th at 5:30 p.m. at the Raymond John Wean Building on Courthouse Square.

A lot going on

pWow, it’s been several weeks since I posted, which is too long a gap. First I was on vacation, then I got sick, then the dog ate my homework, then….well, anyway, I’m back and there is a lot to tell. I’m going to break it up over a couple of days so check back later this week.

First, we have a great new package of photos with the best representation to date of what we are planting in gregg’s gardens (that is Rough Blazingstar above). They were supplied to us by Ohio Prairie Nursery which supplies us with seeds. I’m especially fond of the native grasses — Little Bluestem (below) and Nodding Wild Rye.

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Part of the reason we haven’t written much is that we have been very busy selecting and prepping the next group of garden lots in the Garden District. We are working on killing weeds in about 30 lots now, including the walking path on the old railroad right-of-way that runs between Belmont and Elm Road; this is going to be a very charming addition to the neighborhood once the flowers and grasses mature.

If you haven’t yet, take a drive by the Elm and Atlantic lot; park and walk around it if you can in order to really appreciate how beautiful these flowers and grasses are. This lot was planted with plugs so it has a one-year head start on the other gardens which we seeded. The seeded lots should look like this by this time next year. You may have noticed also that the rye grass in the seeded lots has been cut down and removed per the plan.

Check back later this week for an funding update and news about other gg projects underway.

Vindy article

We got a very nice write up in this morning’s Vindicator. It was especially nice since I’d just gotten off the phone with some lunatic woman who threatened to “sue me into the next life” if we planted on her property — which we were not planning to do anyway.

Ride of Silence

587603_1The Tribune had a front page article today on yesterday’s “Ride of Silence” promoting bicycle safety. Not only are gregg’s gardens named for a young man, Gregg Snyder, who was killed while riding a bicycle, but one of our first gardens was donated by the family of Garrett Wonders, whose parents organized the event yesterday.

If you don’t know anything about Garrett, take a moment to read about him in the “Gardens” section of this web site. He was a truly remarkable young man who was also the tragic victim of a bicycling accident.

Both of these young men — one an Eagle Scout the other a Navel officer — lived their most passionate times in the outdoors, and we hope to make outdoor Warren a place about which people can be passionate.