A sprawling pink geranium grabbed the curiosity of the three women.
It wasn’t upright like your everyday geranium, but its leaves were softer than some other spreading varieties that Pat Haggard has seen.
She and fellow tai chi classmates Winnie Pitman and Evelyne McKay wandered through the new Kamloops Showcase Community Garden at the corner of McDonald Avenue and Park Street.
An appropriate intersection, given the park where the garden was created is in McDonald Park.
“This is the best thing they’ve ever done,” said Pitman as she admired the open, edible garden area and watched kids from Westmount elementary planting tomatoes into the ground.
“It’s the smartest thing on earth.”
McDonald Park wasn’t always such a community attraction. While it now teems with people using the pool, water park, pickleball and basketball courts — and now the community gardens — not that many years ago it had fallen into neglect.
“When I look at this park, it is transformative,” said MLA Terry Lake, who was one of the three mayors to oversee McDonald Park’s dramatic change since 2002.
He also credited the Kamloops Communities in Bloom committee for its efforts toward the park’s beautification.
Mayor Peter Milobar said the work began under then-mayor Mel Rothenburger and ended while he himself was in power.
Ten years ago, the park and the neighbourhood needed work and to find an identity again, he said.
The showcase garden got a $5,000 injection of cash from Scotts Canada’s Gro1000 initiative, and another $5,000 in Scotts products.
The company also sponsored the Give Back to Gro Youth Gardener award for a youngster between six and 18 who uses gardening to improve their school, public space or community.
Matthew Axani was the award recipient. Now eight years old, he has been playing in the planting dirt for two years.
He and his parents have a plot at the River Street community garden.
A little shy and quiet around all the fuss, Matthew said his favourite garden vegetables are tomatoes and cucumbers. Broccoli’s OK, but cauliflower — not so much.
Pitman said she spends a lot of time in the park, coming down for the musical performances and to enjoy the greenery.
With everything from lavender to honeyberry to cherries to herbs to rhubarb to lettuce to that cauliflower that Matthew’s not so keen on, the showcase garden will now help feed the souls of a neighbourhood even more.