By Michael J. ARVIZU
When longtime church member Carolyn Young realized how dilapidated the landscaping around the main sanctuary of La Crescenta Center for Spiritual Living appeared, she realized it was time to upgrade it. So, like any bonafide worshipper, she took to the pulpit one Sunday to promote the cause and put out a call for volunteers. Thus, in the fall of 2013, God’s Gardeners was born.
As the sun climbed over the Crescenta Valley on Monday afternoon, volunteers from God’s Gardeners, the church’s newest ministry, could be found armed with shovels, pitch forks, wheelbarrows and rakes as they tended to the church’s flourishing garden. The group meets once a month to tend to the garden, said Young, who is also a volunteer gardener at Descanso Gardens.
“It’s a big job,” Young said. “Many of the plants in the garden have been brought from our own homes.”
Every member of the group tends and waters their own corner of the landscape, which is divided into small gardens, said Young.
“They are dependent on one another,” said La Crescenta Center for Spiritual Living Senior Minister the Rev. Beverly Craig of the volunteers. “Each one of them takes really good care of their little garden. I’m impressed with their dedication.”
The church enjoys the services of a gardener, who is paid by a generous church member, Young said, to take care of the church’s landscaping. But simply mowing the grass and blowing leaves around weekly wasn’t enough for preserving the landscape, which was beginning to turn brown; the land needed more invasive care, which is where God’s Gardeners comes in.
“We spread mulch, we plant plants, we water them, we de-weed,” said God’s Gardeners and church member Victoria Trevino, a Tujunga resident. “The funnest part about the job is looking at the outcome.”
Plants in the gardens include sages, grasses, geraniums, lantanas, asters, and succulence plants that store water internally. Many of the plants in the gardens, Young said, are drought-tolerant, which reduces the amount of water needed to maintain the garden. In fact, the group only waters the gardens once a month. The gardens’ minimal reliance on water is especially important, Young said, as California continues to cope with one of its most severe droughts in recent years.
“All you really need is one cup of water for each little plant,” said church member and La Cañada resident Linda McCollum. “You don’t need to douse it. One cup of water on each little plant, once a week, and that’s all the water it really needs and it’s fine. I’m still kind of surprised about that.”
As a Descanso Gardens volunteer, McCollum is also able to acquire plants Descanso no longer needs to bring to the church gardens to propagate. She and Young also acquire free mulch for the gardens, which is provided by the city of Glendale’s Free Mulch Program.
“It’s improved so much; it looks so beautiful here,” said Trevino of the landscape. “And it’s only going to continue looking better and better.”