This page lays out the parish landscaping approach. Thanks to all the volunteers who keep our church landscaping looking so beautiful! We call them the Gardenin' Angels!
Style of Landscaping:
Spectrum: Formal (static) / Informal (color all year) / Natural (self-sustaining, less maintenance).
Move toward: I/N to add color, reduce maintenance, and be more pollinator-friendly. Native where possible.
Avoid chemicals! Weed by hand.
Cultural Conditions: make sure right plant in the right place in the right size for the right zone
1) Sun. Clinton side of the church pretty much faces north, and the N. Division side pretty much south.
2) Soil. Testing has not been done.
3) Slope. Property is flat, no particular water pooling
4) Wind. None that would influence landscaping.
Around church: a variety of evergreens
Exception: side of church facing townhouses / chain link fence no shrubbery.
Exception: wall along classroom windows has evergreens only at ends, closer to bell (1 taxus) and closer to townhouses (5 junipers).
Nook around round bell: Knockout roses (sturdy and resilient). Small stones from Home Depot because prior mud would splash on window.
Containers on either side of the N. Division doors - geraniums, petunias.
Arbor Vitae in Sister Karen Garden.
A few small islands near Sister Karen Garden with a variety of plants.
Typically 2 pots in front of Division-side door;Betsy and Jerry usually plants geraniums with vines.
From the Sister Karen garden toward Clinton only. Family Promise is taking care of the beds, pots, and vegetable gardens around their building.
1) low maintenance. Minimal pruning, watering required. Note with watering: run hot water out of the hose before wetting plants
2) Deer-resistance not a concern. Avoid berries that might attract rodents.
- Parish clean-up day 5/11. Planting day 6/1.
- Easter Plants put in ground 5/17, 21 by Jesus statue in hopes they will come back in the spring (more to come)
- Plant 9 Virginia Creeper along chain link fence where visible to parish. If they take, plant them in 2020 where visible to townhouses. Pollinator-friendly. Good bird habitat, Native. Planting and watering instructions on Russell's site https://russellsny.com/pdf/PLANTINGINSTRUCTIONS.pdf
- Plant sunflowers in between Arbor Vitae in Sister Karen Garden
- Plant shrubs along classroom wall under windows where previous evergreens did not take. Contrasting color to red brick, seasonal interest. Use 3 inkberry and 6 white potentilla. Mass as 3P - 3I - 3P so as not to look like "tic tac toe". Use some compost when planting and biotone starter fertilizer. along with 2" of mulch. Plant white phlox (creeping perennial) in front of shrubs, use soil-moist.
- Jerry continues to mow lawn.
Reflections on 2019: Sunflowers never made it; Marigolds did well when watered. Having Br. Aaron around to water new plantings was critical. Petunias under the trees between the doors and Clinton did not last long, again due to not enough watering. Weeds in between bricks / pavers treated with an Epsom salt - Vinegar - Dawn mixture by Marta.
Spring 2020 observations: All 6 Potentilla and 3 Inkberry thriving. White phlox did not make it. Virginia Creeper is creeping. Many of the 2019 Easter plants survived, including lilies and mums.
During the 2020 season, Gardenin' Angels contributed almost 250 hours of labor, NOT including watering, mowing, planning, or purchasing / transporting. We accomplished this work in a masked, socially-distant way given COVID.
The big project for 2020 was replacing the Island grass with native plantings, Butterfly Weed and Goldenrod (which does NOT cause allergies, though is often confused with Ragweed, which does). The project was accomplished with roto-tilling in compost (removing grass, weeds, and stones along the way) then mulching. By August we had our first monarch butterfly. Our volunteer lawn mowing crew is grateful for this change!
We mulched all around the property (including the island) with a 6 CuYd delivery from Russell's. The mulch is natural shredded - we were instructed "do not use painted mulch, it adds too much heat to the island and pollutes the water runoff in the drans." Many hours went into edging the beds, again an attempt to reduce the lawn footprint. We will order 12 CuYd next year so we can go around the entire church, and spread a little more thickly to discourage weeds, including around the Clinton St. Arbor Vitae.
We planted a variety of miscellaneous flowers: purchased (marigolds - one clump went gangbusters!) and donated (daylilies, black-eyed susans, coreopsis, other lilies, plants from the Easter altar, hostas, 2 rose bushes). Our approach is trial and error - see if the plant likes a particular microclimate and transplant accordingly. The challenge of the dry summer was too much for some plants, including the sunflowers along the parish hall. We also planted mums in honor of Marge Musial. The ones from Home Depot along the parish hall died early; the 12 from Triechler's in the island bloomed very late.
We had surprised visitors this summer: Japanese Beetles! They were attracted first to lilies, then roses, hibiscus, Virginia creeper, and spirea. We had a "beetle patrol" who would flick them into a cup of soapy water with a little prayer to St. Francis. However, as they continued to ravage our plants, we obtained some Beetlegone, and with 3 applications the problem abated. We have some left over to use in 2021 should we need it.
We continued to use a natural spray to discourage weeds in between pavers, a formula that includes epsom salt, Dawn dish detergent, and vinegar:
The big project for 2021 was going to be removing the 5 remaining shrubs alongside the Parish Hall to the right of the Inkberry and Potentilla, which thrived. However, on Sept 17th we met with National Fuel, who came to estimate a buyout for the areas where they would normally re-plant grass after they excavated. The proceeds would be $225. Heidi Gee from Russell's consulted at the same time. We decided that if we could remove the shrubs we could plant 3 more inkberry, a potentilla, and a decorative grass to finish off the area -- and still be money ahead including the grass seed and supplies. Once again with volunteer labor (Paula Hunt enlisted a friend with a pickup truck) the job almost seemed easy! We also planted a dogwood around the corner from the Jesus statue, which will attract birds. So with our 2021 project accomplished, we can continue our thoughts for "less grass" going forward. One possibility for 2021 would be to add Virginia Creeper along the chain link fence at the back of the church, both for ecological and aesthetic reasons. Watering, however, could be an issue.
We are grateful for all the volunteers who watered during the dry summer.
Note that Family Promise receives separate donations of plant material and typically will find their own volunteers to landscape.
A jewel of 2020 was becoming certified as a St. Kateri habitat, and an article in the last print edition of the WNY Catholic (see article below).
Per Betsy Tirado, the grounds have never looked better. The watering and pruning made a huge difference, esp. to the hibiscus and roses, resp. Winter pruning will include the potentilla (remove 1/3 of the thickest stems) and spirea (take out deadwood and cut back). We haven't yet decided if we'll try to do more flower gardening. One area that could use some love is along the parish center. The spreadsheet summarizing 2020 work is below to use as a model for planning our 2021 work.