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Springs definitely in bloom at Thorndale Park

       If you've wondered about the burst of flower colors in the 400-square-foot southeast corner of Thorndale Park (23rd and Uintah), it's the work of a yoga instructor and her class.
       Deb Housman, a resident of Colorado Springs since 1986, teaches at a studio on North Nevada Avenue. For the second straight year, she and “five or six students” got together to plant roughly 700 flowers in the spring and tend the garden weekly through the summer.
       Their efforts are through City Parks' Springs in Bloom program, which has similar adoption agreements with other individuals, groups or businesses at about 60 sites around the town.
The Thorndale Park flower garden is a blaze of color on a recent sunny morning. The plot is the combined effort of City Parks, which provides the flowers through the city Springs in Bloom program, and DRU Yoga volunteers, who did the planting and take care of maintenance. According to Donna Sanchez, who coordinates the program for the city, the Thorndale flower types include rudbeckia (tall yellow in the back) canna lilies (in the center, which can have red flowers), Victoria blue salvia, apple blossoms and multiple shades of geraniums and petunias.
Westside Pioneer photo
       “It's amazing all the comments we get,” Housman said, “from 9-year-olds on skateboards to a person with a walker. People stop and say, 'You just made my day.' We're making a difference to our parks and neighborhood. That's why we do it.”
       Not only do the neighbors offer compliments, they sometimes pitch in, picking up trash or giving the plants water, she said.
       It helps that some of her yoga students live in the neighborhood themselves. “That particular location is very close to their hearts,” she said. “That park is something they value.”
       As a nod to her students, Housman sometimes holds yoga sessions in Thorndale itself. She plans a free session, open to anyone, Sept. 13 at 8:30 a.m. She teaches what's called DRU (dynamic, real & unlimited) yoga. That name also appears on the city-issued plot-adoption sign at the back end of the Thorndale flower bed.
       The neighborhood support includes minimal theft, Housman was pleased to relate. A couple of those time could be perceived as a kind of neighborhood morality tale - the flowers disappear, then reappear several days later “in a different spot,” she pointed out. Her guess is that small children may have taken flowers home because they thought them pretty, but when parents found out about it, the flowers got returned.
       Thorndale is the only Springs in Bloom plot on the Westside.
       The program began in 2004. Until then, the city had a tradition in which Parks workers produced color arrays at more than 100 flower beds in parks and street medians every summer. But in '04, the city had a budget crisis and eliminated the flower money. Jerry Heimlicher, a former City Councilmember who's since moved away, organized “Bloom” with fellow Councilmember Larry Small, now the executive director of the Fountain Creek Watershed District. In the first year, the volunteers even had to buy their own flowers, but they still came forward.
       The funding has remained iffy ever since, with water and flower availability not certain from one year to the next, and the number of volunteer locations dwindling from more than 100 to the current 60 or so.
       Donna Sanchez, the coordinator with the forestry division of Parks, said that last year the city greenhouse lacked the funding to grow flowers for Springs in Bloom, but this year the budget allowed it.
       She provided the design for each location (including the flower arrangement at Thorndale), but is looking forward to next year, when she plans to let the volunteer adopters take on a more creative role if they want to.
       Thorndale has had three volunteer groups since '04. The first seven years it was the Family and Friends of Genny, and in 2012 it was In Memory of Matt Weed.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 8/8/14; Outdoors: City/County Parks)

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