Overrun by weeds, the entrance to Blackhawk Park off Riverton Avenue in Eagan was an eyesore, according to neighbors Keri Johannes and Diana Fowls.
So the pair, both avid gardeners who lived adjacent to the park, took matters into their own hands.
Over the last four years, Johannes and Fowls have developed and maintained a substantial garden at the park entrance, investing hours each week weeding, watering, planting and pruning during the growing season. Their volunteer efforts attracted the attention of neighbors and park-goers, whose litany of compliments and thank yous are all the motivation this pair needs to continue their hard work.
Their dedication and strong sense of community also caught the eye of Eagan resident Sarah Burrill, who nominated Johannes and Fowls for recognition as part of Patch's Community Spotlight series.
Click here to learn how to nominate an outstanding Eagan citizen for a Community Spotlight profile.
"We love gardening, that’s our passion," Johannes said on Wednesday. "Both of us have that passion; for us, it’s not a job."
After deciding to do something about the unsightly entrance, Johannes and Fowls contacted Eagan city officials, who offered to donate mulch, black dirt and landscaping boulders to get the garden started. Then, the pair went to their neighbors, who graciously donated money to buy plants for the garden.
Since their start four years ago, the two have fought off invasive plants and Asian beetles. On hot days, they run hoses and buckets from their homes to water the garden's inhabitants. Then, each fall, they split and prune the plants—giving away the trimmings to local residents for personal use.
"I can safely say half of my personal garden came from their 'freebies'," Burrill wrote in her nomination.
The pair, who have been gardeners for roughly a decade, hope their efforts will inspire others to do good for the community and get into gardening.
“I think everyone has a special gift, and when they see somebody sharing their gift freely, that inspires them to share their gift freely," Fowls said.
"Plant something; plant a tree, do a planting to beautify the earth, because it doesn’t take much to have a little garden,' Johannes said.