‘He would belong to our community’ | Local News
While going out with her dog, “Persi”, Pam Holen decided to take a walk in the grounds of the Flavel House Museum. The master gardener, agitated by months of cabin fever during the coronavirus pandemic, was overwhelmed by the vision of polishing one of Astoria’s gems.
Holen’s new Flavel House Garden Society will begin a revitalization project this week to restore the gardens to their original Victorian-era beauty. She hopes the project can attract a dedicated sustainable team to see what could be a grueling endeavor.
â€œThere are a lot of balls in the air when you do a project like this,â€ Holen said. â€œIt won’t be the perfect Victorian garden next summer. It’s going to take time, which is why we need sustainability.
The gardening society operates under the wing of the Clatsop County Historical Society, the informal organization dedicated to preserving the history of the area.
With gardens that have been around since the 1880s, more research is needed to identify what types of plants can bloom all year round and bloom at different times so that the grounds can attract seasonal visitors. Many trees planted at the start of the garden have grown significantly, Holen said, which means different levels of sunlight present challenges for what can and cannot be planted.
For these reasons, Holen describes it as an educational project. In addition to learning about the history of the Flavels, the famous maritime family, visitors were able to learn about the biodiversity and types of gardens typical of the Victorian era.
McAndrew Burns, the historical society’s executive director, estimates the improvement could help Flavel House attract up to 75,000 visitors a year, almost double what they typically see.
Before the vision can be fully realized, however, the gardening company needs as many hands on the bridge as possible.
â€œThe first step is to get people to show interest, get them out here and just clean up the weeds,â€ Holen said. â€œOnce you’ve removed the weeds and mulched, you can step back and think, ‘Now what should we do? “”
Revitalization will begin with weeding and mulching before winter. The work will take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday evening, then from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday morning. Placement of new plants and composting could take place by next spring.
â€œWe are really grateful for anyone coming or having interest. We’re not looking for a lifetime commitment, â€Burns said. “But if you’ve got a few hours and you want to come and pull the weeds and lay down some mulch, we’ll have some snacks and refreshments.”
Restoring the Flavel House gardens could offer Astorians more than an increase in tourism and a taste of horticultural education, organizers say. It might give people a deeper sense of pride after a tough time.
â€œIt wouldn’t belong to you. It wouldn’t belong to me. It would belong to our community, â€said Holen.
The success of past plans to rejuvenate the Flavel House, such as a cleanup that took place before the museum’s inclusion in a recent horror film, gives Burns hope for the Gardens.
â€œPeople are very proud of it,â€ he said. “Whenever she needs a little help, like painting or now, with the land, I think the community comes together and realizes that this is one of the most important parts of what the people of Astoria see. “