By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Think of the last time you took a stroll along the west bank of the Grand River near the Grand Rapids Public Museum – a very picturesque scene of the water and beautifully landscaped grounds. Hard to imagine it could be even more picture perfect, right? How about the addition of some flowering trees like Kwanzan Cherry Trees?
If you eyes just got wider and a smile slipped on your face at that thought then you are right in tune to the reaction of the members of the Kent Garden Club which will be planting those cherry trees this Saturday, April 16, along the west bank of the Grand River.
“The fact that it is Global Youth Service Day on Friday and then you have Earth Day on April 22 and Arbor Day April 29, it just seemed like the perfect project to do during the month of April,” said Adele Krhovsky, who is the Kent Garden Club president.
More than 100 years old, the Kent Garden Club, as part of its mission to encourage active interest in civic beautification, has for about 75 years helped oversee the planting and maintaining of the landscape at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. The committee, Gardening on the Grand, is currently chaired by Kent Garden Club member Barb Hoogeboom.
“Once a month we come out and plant, prune and weed,” Krhovsky said, adding that the group has planted 500 daffodil bulbs. Some of the members have focused on specific areas such as Kent Garden Club member Mary Block who takes care of all the urns at the Public Museum.
It was during one of the monthly Public Museum gatherings last year that the idea for the Kwanzan Cherry Trees was planted with the members and from there bloomed into a plan of action. The Kent Garden Club proposed the idea of adding the trees to the Public Museum, but due to the river restoration project, had to put the plan on hold until this March, Krhovsky said.
When it was determined that where the trees would be placed would not be impacted by the Grand River project, the membership moved into action, raising more than $2,500 for the trees and to have a tree specialist available on planting day. Scotts Miracle-Gro is providing fertilizer and mulch with a representative also scheduled to be there on Saturday as well.
More than 40 volunteers are expected on Saturday to help with the planting. There will be nine trees planted. The Kwanzan Cherry Tree, also called the Japanese Flowering Cherry, is a popular selection because of its huge carnation-like pink cluster of flowers in the spring and for its green leaves, tinted with red, that turn a brilliant orange in the fall. It is planted in Washington D.C. along with the Yoshiko Cherry for the area’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The Kwanzan Cherry Tree is ornamental and does not bear fruit.
The trees being planted on Saturday are six to eight feet in height and will grow to 30 to 40 feet in maturity. The trees will blossom in full approximately one year after being planted, but some blossoming may occur this season. The tree’s lifespan is about 15 to 25 years.
The Public Museum is one of five gardens that the Kent Garden Club cultivates and maintains. The club coordinates volunteers to help with the gardening and those interested in participating or learning more about the Kent Garden Club should visit the group’s website at kentgardenclub.org or check out the group’s Facebook page.
The Kent Garden Club is part of The National Garden Clubs, Inc., which on May 2, the City of Grand Rapids will be home to The National Gardens Clubs’ 87th Annual Garden Club Convention, “Blooming on the Grand.” The convention will highlight what the Kent Garden Club has done for the city including the Museum’s grounds. For more on the convention, click here.