COVID-19 has affected so many things in the region, and the Riverside International Gardens are no exception.
Each summer, up to 40 volunteers - most of them senior citizens from the greater La Crosse region - volunteer to care for the gardens.
This year, annual flowers were not planted because COVID-19 remains a threat to volunteer gardeners, many of whom are vulnerable seniors.
Visitors should understand the flower planters are planned a year in advance, flowers are ordered, and groups of volunteers must work side-by-side to plant and maintain flowers from May to October. This simply could not be done safely this year.
Meanwhile, the many fountains and "water features" that require almost daily maintenance by one or two city parks employees were also delayed by COVID-19 restrictions.
You should know that a few core volunteers continue to work in small groups early in the morning to keep perennials, trees and shrubs alive, while avoiding contact with the public. The gardens may not look polished, but they are not neglected by any means.
Several major improvements are underway at the International Gardens, including a completely rebuilt koi pond in the China garden, and soon, a new plaza and cozy reading nook in the Russia garden. These improvements generally require months of planning and the efforts of volunteers and, of course, donors.
There are many beautiful plants and vistas to enjoy at the Riverside International Friendship Gardens, which remains a haven, and place of peace.
Jennifer Short, La Crosse
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