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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

One of the best things about Parkersburg

I love public amenities. Admittedly, public gardens and other green spaces are not (and probably cannot be) as individual as the private spaces featured on last week's garden tour, but--they are public. Open to everyone and, in many cases, free.

Such is the case with the Blomberg Arboretum adjacent to the main Parkersburg library. This is a small public greenspace, one that can be walked in just a few minutes if one is not ogling the plants and animals, but the variety and liveliness packed into this small area make it deserving of attention, particularly because most of the plantings are West Virginia native species. In spring the arboretum overwhelms with flowering trees and in late summer with prairie flowers and grasses in full bloom, but something interesting is happening all the time.

Right now, the water lilies in the entrance pond are putting on quite a show

while a past-peak oakleaf hydrangea still commands attention.

Some of the beds have a formal layout, demonstrating that native plant gardens need not be messy,

although some plants, like this silphium, do want to get a tad out of control.

Nearly everything in the arboretum is labeled, making this a teaching space. There is even a (more or less) formal space for lectures, shaded by several large native wisteria (not to be confused with the Asian wisteria currently devouring the South).

This wisteria attracts bees and other beneficial insects, though I wasn't able to get a decent picture of any of the little pollinators happily working this plant this morning.

All of this beauty and information are freely available to anyone who wanders over from the library parking lot, and it is nestled in what for us is a busy area. The upper-floor balconies of a senior citizens' apartment building overlook some of the arboretum's trees, the space backs onto back yards, and the gap in the fence leads to an unused alley that allows quick pedestrian access to the businesses on Emerson Avenue. The city arboretum demonstrates the relative ease of making room for nature in even small spaces in our human communities.

It has also made me change my opinion that most monarda is boring. The developing blossom of monarda fistulosa is a new favorite thing.


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