‘Genny Garden’ is back in business

       It may not have the lushness and size of past years, but the Family and Friends of Genny Garden is flowering again at Thorndale Park this summer.

The Family and Friends of Genny garden at Thorndale Park is scaled back this year, but a few months ago they city was not going to allow it to go in at all. The area behind it (the south part of the park), has recently been adopted by landscaper Russ Finsterwald.
Westside Pioneer photo

       That certainly beats the alternative, which was nothing at all, according to Westsider Karen Sucharski, who has helped lead the planting of creative arrangements in the 396-square-foot flower garden at the southeast corner of the park (23rd and Uintah streets) annually since 2004. Because of budget-forced watering cutbacks at Thorndale, City Parks had planned to eliminate the Genny Garden from its volunteer Springs in Bloom program this year. Crews had even taken down the “Family and Friends of Genny” sign next to the plot.
       But Sucharski, whose inspiration for the garden was the creative life and early death of her daughter Genny (at 18 in the year 2000), was not ready to give up so easily. She negotiated a plan with the city's city horticulture division to give her enough leftover geraniums to fill three plastic barrels which she placed at angles in the dirt and pledged to water and weed them herself.
       “We're trying to make it something that looks nice and doesn't cost anybody anything,” Sucharski said.
       Springs in Bloom is a city program, implemented during another difficult budget year (2004), when the city sought citizen help after being forced to eliminate a program it had run for years in which city crews would plant flowers in street medians or park plots such as Thorndale's.
       Sucharski is getting help this year from Russ Finsterwald, who this spring became the park's volunteer “adopter” (as part of a program offered by City Parks). He agreed to run a hose from his house on the other side of 23rd Street to water the Genny Garden, as needed.
       The owner of a landscaping service, Finsterwald has reseeded the grass around that southeast corner, and he's also mowing the park grass south of the pavilion.
       “Everyone's pointing a finger at City Parks,” Finsterwald said. “I could sit there and complain or try to help out.” His main motivation? “If I wanted to live next to a field, I would have bought a house next to a field.”
       At a City Council meeting June 10, City Parks Director Paul Butcher expressed gratitude to such volunteers. “Every park where someone does something for us that we don't normally do, it's a savings,” he said.

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