Monday, June 09, 2008

Places to go, People to see

This past weekend was a busy one for us. Barry and my mother stayed at the FARM and hosted the spouses of the ND Fire Fighters who were attending the annual convention in Devils Lake. They all had a great time even though it is early in our season and the weeds are still high and the crops just starting to poke through the ground. Just goes to show there's always something to do here. The ladies were a little short on time - so many things to do in this area - so Barry didn't even get to tell them about our 'You Learn' center, the vending machine where you can purchase self guided tour maps, projects, histories, and other great things to do on the farm.

While Barry and Mom led the tour at home, I was up at the International Peace Gardens helping with their Gardening Boot Camp. Since 1923, the International Peace Garden has been a unique tribute to the peace and friendship between the people of Canada and the USA. The Cairn in the Peace Garden states, "To G_d in his glory, we two nations dedicate this garden and pledge ourselves that as long as men shall live we will not take up arms against each other."

When I arrived Doug Hevenor, the Director there, was leading the group through the gardens explaining the many changes that are to come in the next couple years. I'd really like to commend all the folks at the gardens for the work they do. The upcoming seasons will be difficult ones. The maintenance at the gardens has been neglected for many years. The neglect came from a lack of funds, not a lack of caring. That's one thing I know about all of the workers up there, they care VERY deeply about the gardens. Time and the elements have taken their toll on the parts of the garden we all love the most - the formal gardens and pools. Doug is doing his best to find funding to make the major renovations and repairs necessary to bring the gardens back to its glory but finding money is no easy task. Once the funding is in place, the destruction and construction will begin and that's not easy either. The gardens will be under construction for a couple years at least. This means the view of the formal gardens will not be the same for a while - but that's a GOOD thing. It will be fun to watch the progress and being interpretive gardens, this gives the folks at the International Peace Gardens a chance to talk about renovation of a garden, how to fix what time and temp will do, what types of maintenance and preventative measures will be needed as they move forward and also preservation of some of the most valuable and important historic parts of the gardens. It will be a great time to tell the story of the gardens, the great people and plants that have come before and how it will be preserved for the future. I think it is very important for visitors to understand what is going on. If you do not understand you could go to the gardens and be disappointed because it doesn't have that finished regal look you are used to - but if you go understanding that they are trying to set the stage for the future and tell the story of what deer, moose, and mother nature can do to a garden you will be more appreciative of the work they do.

Speaking of work - all of the grounds and buildings get maintained by a very small staff on a limited budget. The young people I met this weekend that work at the gardens have no formal training in horticulture but they are doing a bang up job and working their little hearts out. Let's give them a big thanks when you visit.

With gas prices the way they are - and looks like they will stay that way - it's time to stay home - home in ND I mean - and visit some of our own treasures. The International Peace Gardens are one of America's finest spots. Even without the gardens, the Peace Chapel, the Peace Poles, the Peace Tower, the 9-11 Memorial Site, the Game Warden Museum, Masonic Auditorium, Historic Civilian Conservation Corps Lodge and the many other spots to see at the garden will make for a great vacation spot. If you haven't been there, GO NOW. If it's been a while since you've been there, you owe it to yourself to GO NOW. If you're not from ND and have never heard of the IPG - learn about it and plan it as part of your vacation. It's well worth the trip. Check it out at:

PS - you do need to show your credentials when coming back from the gardens so please remember to take your passport OR your drivers license and birth certificate with you.

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