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Published: Thursday, 8/12/2004

Toledo: Wall becomes pallet for gardening

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Merle Peoples, Jonathon Parsons, and Don French view their volunteer efforts at the intersection of Sherbrooke Road and the expressway. Merle Peoples, Jonathon Parsons, and Don French view their volunteer efforts at the intersection of Sherbrooke Road and the expressway.
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The wall looms over the expressway as cars and trucks rumble past a West Toledo neighborhood.

And although it muffles the noise from I-475 for those living on the other side, it imposes a drab presence to some of the neighbors looking at it.

Some of those living nearest the wall east of Sherbrooke Road decided to use the large, bland slab as a pallet for gardening.

At the end of St. Bernard Drive, John Czarnecki began about three years ago with Boston and English ivy that now climbs to the top of the wall in different shades of green.

He planted roses bushes that provide a red slash of color and help disguise a guardrail.

There are weeping mulberry and weeping cherry trees along that stretch of the wall.

To the west, at the end of Northwood Avenue, Jonathan Parsons began to expand a garden that now ranges as far as Sherbrooke, behind his house, and he said consists of about 10,000 different plants.

"I think I have an example of just about every species,'' that grows in the area, he said.

Mr. Parsons said that he has always worked in and taught landscaping and although he gardened anyway, the wall was an impetus to show off more plants and more color.

At some points, turning in a circle creates a kaleidoscopic view of reds, yellows, purples and greens.

Other colors and textures are created by the plants that are interspersed with brick walkways and sculptures.

Hoses run from the homes of Mr. Czarnecki and Mr. Parsons to water the colorful canvas.

Mr. Parsons said his enjoyment of gardening has been enhanced because other neighbors have joined in to help.

"Community gardens help bring neighbors together,'' he said. "It's all been very enjoyable.''

He said he likes the fact that neighborhood children treat the area as a park and that they are often walking along the walkways with their pets or throwing balls back and forth.

"I suppose you could be worried about what might happen,'' but he considers the property a neighborhood asset and that people who live nearby should enjoy it.

Mr. Parsons is so interested in letting people see what a neighborhood has done to change the view, that he has distributed leaflets to advertise an open house Saturday to show off the community park.

Contact Mike Jones at:

mjones@theblade.com

or 419-724-6096



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