Nearly two years in the making, the landscape project at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center in downtown Nevada City has finally reached completion.
More than half a dozen local service groups, including Habitat for Humanity, Nevada County Master Gardeners, Nevada City Boy Scouts and Rotary Clubs, along with a handful of key individuals, contributed to the success of the project by donating their time and talents to transform the grounds of the historic building for the community to enjoy for generations to come.
“Improved landscaping in front of the foundry and new landscaping behind the foundry has been on our wish list for a few years,” said Miners Foundry Executive Director Gretchen Bond. “After installation of the sprinkler system, we began working with the Boy Scouts on the garden areas in front.”
The project began when volunteers with Habitat for Humanity reworked the cobbled entrance and installed piping for irrigation to the gardens in front of the building, but it wasn’t until last year under the direction of the Miners Foundry facility committee and volunteer project coordinator Dan St. John that the project took off.
St. John recruited Master Gardener Lyn Muth who provided plant recommendations to the Boy Scouts. Members of the Nevada City Boy Scout Troop 855 worked on the gardens in the front of the foundry with McKiernan Flaherty taking on this portion of the project as his Eagle Scout project. Scout Master Ken Newton recommended Flaherty for the project.
“I was really interested in this project,” said Flaherty. “And I was fortunately able to meet a lot of great people through this.”
One of the people Flaherty noted is St. John.
“He is incredibly devout to the foundry,” said Flaherty. “Just to see how much passion he has for the foundry helped me to say this is something I want to take on as my Eagle project.”
Muth, who is also a gardening designer and consultant, drew up a preliminary design.
“It got much larger when I told Dan the trees needed to be removed,” she said.
Thankfully, the foundry had applied for and was awarded a Rotary District 5190 Service Grant through the Nevada City and 49er clubs. The two groups partnered for the project, each committing $1,500 and volunteer labor. The district matched the local rotary commitments, bringing the total grant to $6,000. The funds were used to expand the scope of the project to include the back areas of the foundry.
After approval from the Nevada City Council, a group of Rotarians convened at the foundry March 6 to remove the invasive trees called Tree of Heaven.
The Tree of Heaven is considered an ecological threat that can take over sites by replacing native plants and can also prevent the establishment of other plant species nearby.
“There were a lot of people up in arms about it because, you know, a tree is a tree,” said Muth. “But we planted tree for tree. We planted with ornamental trees, not invasive trees.”
In this case, the invasive trees were cutting into the retaining wall and road.
The ornamental trees include redbud, flowering plum, Japanese maple and a cherry tree, said St. John.
“They will add a lot of color and shade,” he added.
St. John spent hundreds of hours on the project, doing a lot of the digging, weeding, loading, hauling and laying of topsoil, gravel, sand and cement.
He also received approval to have some Wayne Brown Correctional Institute minimum security inmates help dig up the back area and haul weeds away.
Miners Foundry Historic Committee member Mike Nevius also worked with St. John,and facility committee member and architect Diana Knutson to place existing and additional historic artifacts in the gardens. Knutson also designed an arbor with a bench.
“There was a climbing rose that had been there for a long time and needed an arbor,” said St. John. With Knutson’s design, St. John found a contractor who offered to build it for a reasonable price. “We put another rose plant on the other side so they will climb the arbor,” he said.
The arbor will make for a lovely location for photographs, passers-by to enjoy themselves and event attendees to relax.
In the patio area, laid out with flagstone, the planting plan focuses on a variety of white flowers, creating a space for wedding receptions or parties.
“As time goes on and these plants have a chance to grow and mature, they’re going to be special,” said St. John. “They will climb up the handrails on Bridge Street and Spring Street. They’re quite prolific flowers.”
The Miners Foundry is at 325 Spring St., Nevada City. For information, call (530) 265-5040 or visit minersfoundry.org.