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Published April 16, 2010, 12:00 AM

Time to rake Rainbow

Volunteers sought for Mayville project
Mayville, N.D. - You need some rain to have a rainbow. You need a little sweat to have a Rainbow Garden.

By: Helmut Schmidt, INFORUM

Mayville, N.D. - You need some rain to have a rainbow. You need a little sweat to have a Rainbow Garden.

Organizers of Mayville’s community garden on the Goose River are urging plant lovers to donate a little of their time this weekend and next to prepare the town’s floral and sculpture spot.

Jo Ewen, a member of the garden’s board, said the group of seven gardens takes 40 hours of maintenance a week during the growing season.

But spring cleanup and preparation of the gardens is perhaps the most intensive time, the 79-year-old said. The walks need cleaning, and leaves and dead stems and branches must be removed.

“If people work together in goodwill, you get a little help from heaven,” Ewen said.

The garden board would like to attract 30 to 40 volunteers over the next two Saturdays, President Sandra Kemmer said.

Kemmer and Ewen hope some of them can also lend a few hours of time in mid-May to plant, or to weed and maintain the gardens this summer.

“It’s all we can do to keep it decent,” said Ewen, who recently had hip surgery.

Rainbow Garden has seven separate gardens. They include the White Garden, English Garden, Cottage Garden, Rock Garden, Children’s Garden, Herb Garden, and Labyrinth.

A scissors is kept by the herb garden, and visitors are urged to clip what they can use in their cooking.

“As far as I know, we’re the only garden I know that encourages people” to do that, Ewen said.

Kemmer likes the Children’s Garden with its playhouse, and swing glider. There are also rocks for children to clamber on, she said.

“We want any age to be able to come down there,” Kemmer said.

The gardens have five sculptures, including the 14-foot “Sentinel” granite bird, sculpted by Twin Cities artist Zoran Mojsilov.

Another five sculptures are commissioned including a piece by Moorhead metalworker Dwight Mickelson, and another by Patrick Shannon of Vergas, Minn.

“It’s fun. There are really artists in this area (to feature), instead of having churned-out stuff. Each piece is unique,” Ewen said.

North Dakota State University landscape architecture students lent their expertise and ideas to the volunteers on the garden board in 2004, a year before Rainbow Garden officially opened.

The garden was built on the site of the former zoo, which closed 10 years ago, Ewen said.

The initial cleanup and creation of the gardens was tough and stressful.

“They had garbage dumps and a road under there,” Ewen said.

The garden board got a 10-year commitment from two local banks for funding, “so we couldn’t quit. But it was scary. We just putzed away,” Ewen said.

But putzing has paid off.

“I think it’s the only volunteer thing I’ve ever done that’s ever come out better than I dreamed,” Ewen said.

If you go

- What: Rainbow Garden spring cleanup and garden preparation.

- When: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. April 24.

- Where: 367 3rd St. S.W., Mayville, N.D. It is just south of Highway 200 and east of the Willow Wood Campground

- Info: Gloves to protect your hands, and work clothes that match the weather. If you can, bring a rake, and perhaps a hoe, or another useful gardening tool.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583