Rhylander Park is located in the southeast part of Plattsmouth, Nebraska. The park was developed on the twenty-eight acre site of the Burlington Railroad shops. In the mid 1960's, the shops closed. The site that once housed railroad round houses and equipment now is home to fifty-two species of trees, gardens, youth league fields, a running track, a gazebo, pavilions, and playground equipment. Commemorative railroad memorabilia is located in the park to honor Plattsmouth's rich railroad history. Over time the park's beauty began to fade. Maintnance of sports fields became the priority during slow economic times. The upkeep of gardens dwindled as funding became scarce.
On June 24 through June 28, 2009, Plattsmouth was host to the 2009 Chautauqua, "Bright Dreams, Hard Times". Since the late 1800s to the present 21st century, Chautauquas provided musical entertainment and a combination of oratory and lectures about national events. Today's tent show programs focus on America in the thirties. Rhylander Park was designated as a 2009 site and the upcoming Chautauqua became the catalyst to revitalize the park.
Rhylander Park entrance continues to be maintained by the Plattsmouth Garden Club.
The revitalization of Rhylander Park was made possible by the Lions Club obtaining a Cass County Tourism grant of $1670 and Phyllis Durand obtaining The Plattsmouth Community Foundation grant of $1000. The Plattsmouth Park board requested various organizations to adopt an area of the park. The Plattsmouth Garden Club was allotted 30% of the funding.
The design consisted of using perennials and annuals. Existing plants from the site and plants from other areas of the park that were no longer desired were incorporated into the design. Existing roses from the front were transplanted to the back. Daylilies and grasses from other sites were transplanted in the back and at the side of the brick walls. Perennial spirea and heuchera along with bright yellow and gold annual marigolds were planted in the front of the walls. Perennial berberis and yellow marigolds were planted in the back. The goal was to achieve a bright and cheery appearance throughout the season until the first frost. The tall grasses, roses and berberis would provide a winterscape.
The Plattsmouth Garden Club received an award in 2010 from the Rocky Mountain Region for Landscape Design.
Veterans Garden at Garfield Park
Garfield Park, established in 1877, is Plattsmouth Nebraska’s oldest park. The park was designed as a presidential park with diagonal sidewalks as one of the defining elements. A bandstand, water fountains, wading pool and lighting were nestled amongst the mighty oak trees. A flagpole 100 feet tall and set in 6 feet of concrete towers on the west end of the park. It was a grand park with all the Victorian splendor of its day.
Sadly, Garfield Park’s grandeur faded over the years as modern water parks, baseball diamonds and soccer fields were built. In the 1990’s, Friends of Garfield Park, the Plattsmouth Conservancy, the Park Board, the city of Plattsmouth, and the Plattsmouth Garden Club began to restore the park to it’s Victorian grandeur. Garfield Park is to be a focal point for education, historical, cultural and recreational activities. In 2005, the bandstand was re-built. Restoration plans included Victorian benches, Victorian lighting, and restoring the diagonal walk ways. In 2007, the Plattsmouth Garden Club created the Veterans Garden to re-establish the floral beauty to this historic 130 year old park and to pay homage to the service men and women from the Plattsmouth community who have bravely served our nation.
Veterans Garden was created with funds from the National Garden Clubs, Inc. and the Principal Financial Group’s "Let Freedom Ring" grant. This was matched by the city of Plattsmouth totaling $1000, a donation from Northrop Grumman Information Technology for $500, an anonymous donation of $200. Kolby Lyons and Jeanie Brookhouser were instrumental in procuring the grants.
Vicky Krotz designed the garden around the historic granite boulder and the flagpole. Plant material was started from seeds, donated from club members’ gardens and purchased from garden centers. The plan was to use as many old fashioned plants as possible which included a snowball bush, viburnums, holly hocks, hibiscus and phlox. The area around the granite boulder is used for native Nebraska plants including coneflowers, goldenrod, liatris and skull cap to name a few.
Site preparation required removing 16-20 inches of clay soil and unwanted vegetation. OmaGro and rich black soil was added. The city of Plattsmouth connected the garden to the city water supply. Vicki Krotz then installed the drip system. Custom metal trellises were designed and installed for the climbing plants, clematis and hyacinth bean vines.
The Garden Path
The garden path was designed so that water will drain off the path into a drainage ditch lined with fabric and drainage tubes and filled with large white gravel. The path was constructed of crushed limestone. Amaranthus is incorporated into the garden for its symbolism. The plant’s common name is “Love Lies Bleeding”. Vicky Krotz hopes that when you see the plant you will be reminded of the sacrifices our military men and women made for us.
Planting is an arduous task but one that is filled with anticipation of beautiful blooms and ambrosial scents.
Veterans Garden was formally dedicated September 8, 2007. Sharon Muller, President, Plattsmouth Garden Club, officiated. Dignitaries attending were Plattsmouth Mayor Paul Lambert, Linda Shaw, District 13 Director, Ruth Wassinger, Principal Financial Group, Mr. and Mrs. Dean Helmick, Norhrop Grumman Information Technology, SSG Ret. James Paczkowski, United States Army Reserves, featured speaker, Jeanie Brookhauser, Park Board and members of the Plattsmouth Conservancy. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Honor Guard presented the colors accompanied by the Plattsmouth Community Band performing the National Anthem. The ceremony concluded with a haunting rendition of Taps. The Plattsmouth Community Band continued to entertain at the bandstand after the dedication. Refreshments were served by the Plattsmouth Garden Club.
Work continues at Veterans Garden. The Plattsmouth Garden Club continues to improve the garden. Four benches were added in 2010. The benches match the other benches in the park. Name plates on the benches honor deceased garden members. The benches are arranged around the garden to allow people to rest and reflect.
Veterans Garden is a continuing project for the club. Club members continue to care for the garden by weeding, watering and replacing plants. If you are interested in the garden and want to provide your time, talents or financial support, please contact us.
Drip System 2013
Drip Irrigation Saves Time, Labor, and Water
Managing the watering needs of a home garden during a hot, dry summer can present a logistical challenge. That challenge is compounded when the garden requiring the irrigation is in a public park and maintained by volunteers who must travel to get to the garden. Installing an automated system to meet irrigation needs can save volunteer gardeners significant time, labor, and planning, as well as use water more efficiently.
This summer, members of the Plattsmouth Garden Club installed a drip irrigation system into one of the gardens maintained by the club. The club used only in-house labor and learning from online tutorials to design and build the system. The result was the virtual elimination of watering chores, a significant reduction in weeding, and an estimated sixty-seven percent reduction in water use.
In 2007, the Plattsmouth Garden Club undertook a project to establish a Veterans Garden at Garfield Park in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. The club designed and installed a densely-planted perennial and shrub garden around focal points of a historic granite boulder and flagpole. The planted areas cover approximately 450 square feet and were originally served by soaker hoses to meet the plants’ water needs.
Within a few years, the soaker hoses deteriorated and started to require frequent repair. After the soaker hoses failed, watering was then managed with an oscillating sprinkler. Using the sprinkler demanded frequent trips to the park to turn water on, turn water off, and re-position to water other zones. Overhead watering also left peripheral areas of the garden too dry while unnecessarily irrigating the gravel path and mulched areas, encouraging weed growth.
Drip irrigation was considered for the garden, due to drip irrigation’s advantages of efficient water use, targeted watering, and useful lifespan on the order of ten or more years. In 2012, the club obtained an estimate to have drip irrigation professionally installed into Veterans Garden, but the cost (approximately $1,500) was judged to be too high. Instead, in spring 2013 the club decided to install the drip system using in-house labor and study from online tutorials. The goals of the project were to provide for the garden’s water needs, reduce the time and effort required by the club to irrigate and maintain the garden, and reduce the water needed to irrigate the garden.
A proposed parts list and estimate were drawn up and a budget of $500 allocated for the job. Members tested the water supply provided by the city of Plattsmouth to determine the water pressure and flow rate available to support the irrigation system. Based on the generous water flow rate available, members determined that the entire garden could be served by one circuit split into two main distribution lines, reducing the number of parts required. A spreadsheet was used to perform calculations to verify that the flow rates would support a split distribution system.
The main irrigation distribution lines were ½” polyethylene tubing connected with compression fittings. For most plants, pressure-compensating drip emitters that dispensed ½ gallon per hour (gph) were used. For shrubs and trees, two or more 1 gph emitters served each plant. In an area of groundcover and newly-planted perennials, a 14 gph microsprayer with a 6-12 foot diameter throw was used. Short runs of smaller 1/4" tubing were used where necessary to reach plants not near enough to the main lines. Emitters were also installed to the two sunken bowls that offer water for local birds and small wildlife, so that these could be refilled automatically. A backflow preventer to protect the city water supply, 155 mesh stainless steel filter, and pressure regulator to reduce the system to 25 psi rounded out the basic system requirements. Finally, in order to minimize the human intervention required to keep the garden watered, the club installed a high-flow programmable timer.
The total time to complete the project was approximately 34 hours. Since the installation took place in late June/early July in an established and densely-planted garden, progress was significantly slower than would be possible in a new garden area. The completed system cost came in at about $360, approximately one-fourth of the cost estimate for an outside company to install the system.
The new irrigation method successfully provided for the water needs of the garden while reducing the labor and water required. Instead of requiring an average of two hours a week during the season to travel to the garden and manually drag hoses and operate valves to run an overhead sprinkling system, watering operations were reduced to ten-minute checks of a stationary and automated system.
By applying water just where it was needed at the root zones of perennials, shrubs, and trees, garden health was maintained and improved. Distance and/or taller plants had prevented some of the areas from receiving adequate water through overhead irrigation, but now the targeted water application keeps the entirety of the lushly-planted landscape healthy. Another benefit of the targeted watering is that weed germination has been reduced in the mulched paths and borders of the garden, leading to less maintenance work for club volunteers.
The drip irrigation system is estimated to be using 67% less water than the sprinkler method used, saving the city an estimated 44,000 gallons per year. The flow rate of the drip system as configured is less than half that of a sprinkler, and by applying the water only where needed, the overall watering duration is reduced as well. Drip watering also means that visitors or gardeners may traverse the park while the system is running without being sprayed by water.
The Plattsmouth Garden Club’s investment in a drip irrigation system freed club volunteers from the season-long time and physical challenges of routine watering. Other maintenance items such as excess weeding, replacing drought-stressed plants, and damage from dragging water hose were also mitigated, leaving members more time and energy for more constructive activity. Finally, the drip system used significantly less water than the sprinkler system.
In Appreciation: Kris Thompson designed, acquired the parts, constructed and continues to maintain the drip system. We appreciate her dedication to this water conserving, cost effective and labor reducing system for the Veterans Garden.