Oct. 20th 2018
Becky Emerson Carlberg
The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts the first frost for Meeker, their nearest climate station which sits 925 feet above sea level, will be October 21st. Well, the mornings of October 15th and 16th were pretty chilly. The preceding weekend was a dizzying display of pruning, digging, moving (often with a dolly), repotting and repositioning dozens of plants. Most were wheeled into the greenhouse.
Autumn is a beautiful time of year, but very bittersweet. My emotions cycle from heart-wrenching sadness to pure joy. It was the season my mom and dad left this earth, but during the fall both my sons were born. I say goodbye to some of my favorite plants, but know others will overwinter and come alive next spring. The trees gradually shut down all food production. Their leaves change into various colors before detaching and falling away to the ground, leaving bare trunks and branches. Next year fresh leaves will emerge and the cycle of life begins anew. Mushrooms have been cropping up everywhere. These organisms not only make accessible nutrients to plants but are the supreme digesters of nature. Fingers crossed, the Monarchs are making safe passage to Mexico. The Scissor-tailed flycatchers formed large flocks that flew this past week to southern Mexico, Central America and a few veering off to Florida. True snowbirds.
The Japanese Sister Cities delegates arrive in Shawnee October 24th to spend a few days with host families. They will tour the area to see the sights, hear the sounds and enjoy some Oklahoma hospitality. All too soon they leave October 29th. Shawnee Sister Cities delegates visited Nikaho this summer. Our unique exchange program has continued for 28 years.
The Japanese Peace Garden (JPG) construction began in 1999 over a former airfield. The design is an artistic rendition of a peace symbol. The idea emerged in David Walk’s head on a trip to Japan. Three main paths, two with small covered gates, enter the serene center of the garden. The wood fence and the Bridge of Understanding leading into the Heart was constructed by cabinet maker Doyle Roller Jr and helpers. Brent and Mina Cory with dozens of volunteers laid thirty thousand square feet of sod. Ann Davis spearheaded the drive to add lighting and flags.
Beds of gravel and large stones were installed to imitate land, mountains and water. Through the years many features have come and gone. The Teahouse was funded by TDK and constructed by Don and Karen Wright. The Wrights planted elms, pines, cedars and willows, but many were wiped out in the 2005 drought. The two-tiered landscaping around the building for years was planted with colorful flowers.
The 3.5 mile airport track that circles and intersects the JPG was replaced. Later arrived the addition of street lights along that walking path.
The hardscape part of the Japanese Garden began to suffer from the effects of age and the harsh exposed climate. The paths were restored by the Shawnee Parks and Recreation staff. The Eagle Scout Project of Micah Swedberg included renovation of the paths inside the Heart of the JPG and rebuilding/repainting of the bridge with the assistance of Boy Scout troop 480 (sponsored by the First Baptist Church).
The Multi-County Master Gardeners assisted in the development of new beds, the planting of many trees, and pulled endless plants growing where they should not be`
Master Gardener Linda Smith and her husband Royce removed rotten landscape timbers around the Teahouse and replaced them with new.
To support the Monarch and other wildlife displaced by modern development, several prairie gardens were established. The Native Plant Circle was a section of continuously mowed land marked and roped off. The flowers took advantage and came to life. The Big Four Prairie Grass Square is just that. Olthia, a business firm that specialized in landscaping with native plants, recommended the installation of Oklahoma’s main grasses (Big and little Bluestem, Indian Grass and Switchgrass). The grasses have thrived. The Wildflower Plot next to the Teahouse has Yuccas, sunflowers and prairie grasses
The Deep Fork Audubon Society donated the split-rail fencing around the Prairie Garden bordering a section of the airport fence. Shawnee Parks lent the use of their auger to dig the fence holes, but two Master Gardeners and their mates put up the entire fence. Within the prairie boundaries grow sunflowers, switchgrasses, Prickly pears, asters, bluestems, leadplants, Gaura, and dozens of other wild native plants.
The Bridge was again painted by the Sister Cities delegates of Shawnee last year. The 7th grade students selected from surrounding Middle Schools each year participate in several community projects. They gather periodically throughout the spring and summer to clean, weed and do general garden chores in the JPG. OBU and Gordon Cooper students have many times helped in the JPG.
The impressively huge ironstones in the JPG were delivered on sturdy flatbeds carted from many miles away. All were gifts of Dennis Craig.
Jim VanAntwerp, Coordinator for the Shawnee Parks and Recreation Department, single-handedly replaced the dilapidating picket fence and two gates leading into the Heart.
The long-anticipated water feature was about to become a reality. Due to the donation by the Deep Fork Audubon Society, a small group of dedicated birders, the lichen-covered rock from Pond Pro (actually the rock originated in southeast Oklahoma) had a hole drilled through the middle and was transported to the JPG with its 4’x4’ reservoir, sacks of small rocks, recirculating pump and equipment. The sticky clay in the interior of the JPG put up a fight as the large hole was excavated. The plastic liner was nestled inside, paraphernalia installed, the rock placed over the pipe and laid on top of the reservoir support and bed of river stones. A simple wood frame enclosed the small rocky pond with the sound of a small burbling brook. It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Jim as well as two city employees, Terry Moore and Kane McElfresh. Someone mentioned tongue in cheek the rock should be called Tranquility Falls!
So you see, innumerable people have made contributions to the development and maintenance of the Japanese Peace Garden. Volunteers are the village that builds and supports the garden. As the sign says hanging at the Teahouse:
Sister City Peace Garden
Nikaho, Akita, Japan…..Shawnee, Oklahoma USA
Building Bridges of Peace