The Friends of Oak Cliff Parks, a garden club started in 2002, works in five of the historic parks in Oak Cliff donating well over 2000 hours a years on both new and restorative horticultural and structural projects.
This year has been an incredibly rewarding year for FOCP members as we have garnered not only numerous project awards at both the District X and State level, but also the distinction of being the named the Green Garden Club of the Year for the state of Texas.
In February FOCP earned eight awards for various projects from District X Garden Clubs Inc. for projects completed in 2017. District X covers 8 counties in the Greater Dallas area and represents over 50 garden clubs.
Four of the awards were for projects completed at Founders Park just south of downtown. Two 1st place awards were given for installing a mixed spring bulb bed on a steep hillside along the lower sidewalk of the park. The bed, over fifty yards long and twenty yards wide was planted with over 2500 spring bulbs which included multiple varieties of daffodils, hyacinths, dutch iris and crocus. The steep hillside and very rocky soil made planting a difficult challenge. The hillside site was selected to enhance the view of riders on the new trolley that connects the southwestern edge of downtown to the Bishop Arts District. Just below the hillside is the site of the second Founders Park project, which also garnered two first place awards.At this site, a nectar bed that was planted in an abandoned in-ground swimming pool that remained from the days when the currently renovated Lake Cliff Tower was a residential hotel up until the 1950’s. The pool was filled to within a foot of the deck with a combination of soil, weeds, and asphalt and concrete chunks, some weighing up to 300 plus pounds. After the weeds, concrete and asphalt were removed the top foot of the pool had a combination of compost and expanded shale added. The bed was then planted with both pink and purple Mexican Petunias and an adjoining narrow bed was done outside the pool with rock rose. Both were then mulched.
The Kiest Conservation Area is the second site that had award winning projects. Two awards were given for the opening of the Meadow Loop Trail, a mile long trail through the woods that connects to the earlier completed Bridle Trail (2010). One award was for the opening of the trail and the second for the educational bilingual signage. This project was funded in part by a $10,000 Mayor’s Grow South Grant awarded to FOCP in 2016. The year long project included clear cutting a four foot wide mile long path through the woods, hauling what seemed like mountains of brush, bench cutting, and the installation of permanent bilingual signage, which was just complete this April. The third project at this location was the installation of eight bluebird houses and two owl boxes on ten foot high metal poles in the native prairie meadow at the center of the Meadow Loop Trail. This project was another first place winner in the District’s birding category.
The final two awards were for the Friends of Oak Cliff Parks Website and the Facebook page. Both of these were first place awards. All of the District X winners advanced to the state level the following month.
State project awards were announced Mid-April at the State Convention in Fort Worth, site of the State of Texas Garden Club headquarters. At the state level FOCP received 6 first place awards and 1 second place award for club projects.
Advancing projects that won were the swimming pool conversion, winning the May Duff Walters Achievement Award (1st place), the spring bulb planting which won both the Kellog Civic Achievement Award (1st place) and the Community Beautification Award (2nd place), the Nature Trail Award for outdoor trail work and docent signage at the Conservation Area (1st place), the Bird Protection Award for the installation of the ten bird houses at the conservation area (1st place), and a first place for both the FOCP website and Facebook page.
The crowning achievement however, was the selection of the Friends of Oak Cliff Parks Garden Club as the State of Texas Green Garden Club of the year. This award, the highest state award a garden club can receive, was the perfect culmination to a year of hard work.