June 23, 2018
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Plant sale to mark Downing Park’s 25th anniversary in Presque Isle

By Kathy McCarty, Presque Isle Star-Herald

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Presque Isle Garden Club will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Downing Park with a plant sale beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 15.

“We’ll offer many tried and true plants from our own gardens,” said club member and event organizer, Roberta Griffiths.

In addition, participants can help “thin out” plants at the park as well.

“Since there are several plants that need to be thinned out or divided in the Downing Park perennial garden, digging tools and pots will be provided. Refreshments will also be served,” Griffiths said.

“Downing Park, located between State and Academy streets, near Cook Street, was established 25 years ago by Mrs. Harold Downing, who lived on Cook Street, to honor her husband who owned a mill and was a successful contractor in Presque Isle,” explained Griffiths.

The park was created to bring beauty to an otherwise dreary landscape.

“Mrs. Downing lived in a condominium on Cook Street and became tired of looking at a large pile of gravel and rocks across from her house. She called the city manager one day and asked if the ‘mess’ could be cleaned up and that she would provide some money to help with the project,” said Griffiths.

Russell Mount, who worked in the city’s Planning and Development Department, was assigned to coordinate the project between the community and the city.

“Russell contacted the Presque Isle Garden Club and plans were drawn up to develop a public garden for the community to enjoy as they walked and biked on the bike path that had been recently built on the old Canadian and Pacific Railroad bed,” Griffiths said.

Among the organizations and companies that helped to fund the project were: Presque Isle Rotary Club, Maine Potato Growers and McCain Foods. Griffiths said Cunningham school children helped to plant the lilac hedge and other perennials.

“Because the park is named for an individual, no other memorials have been allowed to become part of the overall area. A trust fund was established for the maintenance and development of the park, and now the recreation department is responsible for maintaining the gardens with the advice of the garden club,” said Griffiths.

“Mrs. Downing’s vision to initiate social change has been a gift to the community that has benefited the many people who use the bike path,” she said.

Griffiths said donations are always welcomed at the park.

“Randy Martin, the King’s Gardener, is donating some plantings for the perennial garden. We welcome other donations, should anyone like to share a favorite plant. We’re always looking for ways to improve the park,” said Griffiths.

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