by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
Springtime is beautiful in the foothills of the Sierras, where Three Rivers, California, rests on the threshold of Sequoia National Park. The town of 3,000, was founded in 1879. Today it is home to multiple gardening organizations, including the Red Bud Garden Club.
The Red Bud Club established decorative beds of native plants, including the beautiful Red Bud, at the Three Rivers Veterans Memorial Building and in front of the tiny Post Office, at the two fire stations, and the town Library, lowering the need for water.
One of the Club's twelve members is the chief horticulturist for Sequoia National Park.
Three Rivers has always been a place where ideas were tested in real life experiments for over a century.
Utopian Socialists gathering there in 1886 began attracting nation wide attention. The Kaweah Co-Operative Commonwealth, generally referred to as the Kaweah Colony, is still studied by historians, writers, and students of economics, history, and political science to this day. Other groups followed, including Synanon. Today, Three Rivers is referred to as the Berkeley of the Central Valley.
Where ever folks are politically, gardening brings them together to face opportunities and challenges.
Folks walking though the beds in the Red Bud gardens can read the posted information on native plants. They also plant their own native gardens.
Here, gardening means growing local food, a practice which comes with challenges in the foothills, where critters view gardens as their personal buffet. Strategies to keep these forces at bay are a major interest of the local Edible Garden Club, the most recently established of the several gardening organizations in the town. Serious discussions on related issues take place online and in person.
Every other year the TRUS Foundation hosts a Garden Tour, features visits to hidden gardens at the homes of such residents as actress Angelica Huston's Flying Heart Ranch. Proceeds benefit Three River's school.
The Environmental Weekend show cases environmental-friendly homes which include photovoltaic arrays, straw bail, and rammed earth construction. Seminars are offered for fire safety, an issue very much in the minds of Californians today when the supply of water is already dropping precipitously due to extreme drought conditions.
What ever happens, Three Rivers folks are there for each other.
Gardening is a big deal in Three Rivers and fertilizer comes in many varieties, including Llama and new ideas, applied to make life better for everyone.