Wednesday, December 1, 2010

There's more to our Gardens then Deadheading and Watering

Maybe one of the most under appreciated members of our staff and an individual, if not for his work, would almost go unnoticed (and that's really the way he likes it). Dick Axum, Head Gardener (our only Gardener) has been a member of our Grounds Staff for the past 21 years. In a way Dick works behind the scenes, quietly and diligently going about his work attending to one plant at a time.

The back bone of the gardens, the basis for Dick's madness, is built behind the compost which he makes every fall. For the past 15 years Dick has been making his own compost to add to gardens throughout the golf course and around the club house. All material used for the compost is generated on the property. Compost materials include all of the annual flowers that are removed each fall, Halloween outdoor decorations such as corn stalks, straw bales, and even food scraps that Dick brings from his house each week to deposit on his pile. The backbone to his composting is about 5 loads of leaves collected from the golf course in the fall.

Dick will spend about 4-6 weeks in the later part of November and the month of December grinding leaves and building his compost which will be used next fall. Typically once the leaves and other organic material has been ground and piled, the pile will sit for about 9 months before any of it's used.

One amendment which we would like to begin adding to his pile this year will be coffee grounds from the club house. We want to be able to utilize as much material from our facility as possible to recycle and we feel coffee grounds will be a good place to start. Coffee grounds have a very good nutrient analysis and is a excellent amendment to add to our compost pile. Since we will be using coffee grounds from the club house, this will be a team effort by the waitstaff to save the coffee grounds for our usage. Initially it will take some work to get in place, but like most changes it will only take some time to make the adjustment and the commitment.

No matter the conditions, Dick works through it to make sure his compost pile is made. Quite a determined and focused individual.

Hundreds of tulip bulbs are planted each fall in the front bed.

Multiple containers are positioned around the clubhouse. Dick does a wonderful job keeping the flowers in bloom all season long.

Pool and snack bar area.

The clubs rose gardens are spectacular. Dick invests a great deal of care and attention to each rose plant and it shows. Many of these plants are at least 20 years old.

Dick really has a relationship with his gardens and the soil. He knows and understands how each garden is different and knows what can and will grow, or will not grow in each location. As I watch Dick develop his compost and care for the soils I am reminded of a paragraph from Joel Salatin's book The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer,

"Take a handful of good compost, full of microbes. Bury your nose in it and inhale deeply. Now take a handful of any drug, pesticide, any chemical fertilizer. Bury your nose in it. Inhale deeply. Which relationship would you rather have?"

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