Elizabeth Powell, working alongside her, picks a “colorful mishmash of bulbs” from boxes nearby and arranges them appropriately “which means I pick colorful mixtures at whimsy and when they bloom they’ll be like an abstract painting. But,” she adds, “I’m a complete novice.”
Jones and Powell are with a youth group of 18 volunteers from the McLean Bible Church at Tysons. They are at Culpepper Garden in Arlington on Saturday, Nov. 6 planting daffodils for Culpepper’s garden restoration project. John Mathai says he organizes a group to just hang out at senior centers on the second Saturday of the month. “We go inside and talk to the residents, paint their nails.” But today they are outside working on a special project. Mathai, who has been doing this for at least ten years, says they used to volunteer at different senior centers but since COVID the group has been working only with Culpepper Garden.
It was about 45 degrees when the group arrived to begin their work at 11 a.m. although Powell says she arrived “fashionably late at 11:15. You can take my picture. I’m single.”
“So am I,” chimes in Jones. “I think everyone here except Sasha is single. It’s a good place to meet people.”
The garden restoration began in the fall of 2020 with planting of more than 28,000 daffodils as the first phase of a six-part renovation. The restoration is a tribute to Dr. Charles Culpepper who previously owned the land that now houses Culpepper Garden, senior affordable housing with independent living and an assisted living wing. Culpepper was known for his variety and profusion of daffodils, and some of the original daffodils still bloom around Culpepper Garden.
The second phase of the beautification and enhancement of the grounds will be Woodland Walk which focuses on linking the current walking paths so that residents can stroll all around the property. Marta Hill Gray, executive director, says they have found during COVID that residents have spent more time in the outdoor spaces “connecting more deeply to the healing powers found in nature.” Gibboney Walk, the first phase of the project, has new places for residents to sit and enjoy the variety of native Virginia plants and the birds at the newly-installed feeder.
The design of the six phases of renovation includes a pavilion, a koi pond, trees, benches, garden stone and bird feeders. Outdoor spaces can be named to commemorate a loved one, your company, organization or someone special to you.
Culpepper Garden is currently organizing a daffodil drive. A contribution of $75 or more will result in a reusable canvas bag with 25 premium daffodil bulbs just in time for your own spring planting or for donation back to Culpepper Garden to be planted along Gibboney Walk.