Leetsdale Garden Club spruces up barren spots

Saturday, June 23, 2018 | 12:15 PM

The overgrown patch of land on the eastern portion of Beaver Street in Leetsdale Borough was just sitting there.

Weeds and the over growth had gotten so tall that it almost obscured the vacant houses behind. And that’s when the Leetsdale Garden Club stepped in and took matters into their own hands.

“It was a blighted piece of property that people were using for a dump,” said club member Janet Gilbert who first floated the idea of transforming the parcel into a community garden. Her idea was given the green light by the club.

So Gilbert and her fellow garden club members, Judith Hall, Anita Gebhardt-Coyne, and Mary Kay Dschuban went to the borough last fall and asked for permission to work on the site.

“Why couldn’t we use our imagination and creativity?” asked Gilbert.

“We all bounce ideas off each other,” she said.

The 22 members of the Leetsdale Garden Club, the majority of whom are senior citizens, began clearing the Beaver Street parcel, which is 105-feet long and 30 feet deep. Strangers pitched in to help club members spread two truckloads of mulch donated by the borough.

Because there is no water source at the site, members started planting perennials. Borough residents saw what was going on and donated plants. Hall, the club president, said she would come to the garden and find a box of plants sitting there without a note.

“People have told me the garden helps with their anxiety and depression,” Gilbert added. “This is what inspires me. Random acts of kindness.”

There is no set schedule for maintenance of the garden, which includes donated pavers, a bench, two chairs and a bird bath donated by Dschuban.

“We believe in recycling,” Dschuban said.

It is typical, the club members said, to see any of them at the garden planting and pulling weeds, or lugging jugs of water.

The borough has agreed to the placement of a rain barrel, they said.

The Beaver Street property is not the only project of the Leetsdale Garden Club. They have planted gardens at Henle Park and have landscaped Port Authority bus stops in the borough.

“Everyone should get involved,” Gebhardt-Coyne said.

Suzanne Elliott is a Tribune-Review staff writer.