CARDIFF-BY-THE-SEA — What started out as a patch of dirt interspersed with weeds has grown into a thriving garden along the south entrance to the community.
According to volunteers at the annual Spring Fling event on May 21, their time has been well spent cultivating an appealing space that residents can be proud of.
“This is one of the crown jewels of Cardiff,” said Rena Woods, as she tossed wildflower seeds into the garden. “And that’s saying a lot because Cardiff has a lot of gems.”
Beautifying the area known as Carpentier Parkway has been a longtime project of the Cardiff Botanical Society, a committee of the Cardiff 101 Mainstreet Association that leases the land from the North County Transit District.
Over the past decade, the area has been transformed from a weed-infested, trash-laden eyesore into a promenade teeming with wildflowers, native species and drought tolerant plants.
Linda Lee, a horticulturist with Quality Plantscapes, said the effort has been transformative but also inconsistent.
“It’s always been something that the community has wanted to do but we’ve had our challenges,” she said.
Ever the optimist, Lee was enthusiastic about the park’s expansion that includes a promenade.
As part of the community’s centennial celebration, Carpentier Parkway was officially dedicated April 30 with an eclectic ceremony sponsored by the Cardiff Friends of the Library, which included a band, free food and a drawing for Cardiff-by-the-Sea memorabilia.
“Towns and cities are just a collection of roads and buildings,” said Councilwoman Teresa Barth during the dedication ceremony. As a Cardiff resident, the councilwoman said she was delighted to be able to enjoy the fruits of the community’s labor and share it with visitors as well. “Communities are built by the people who live there.”
Indeed, Stephanie Stock and her son, Corbin Broski worked diligently on Saturday morning to plant roses in the parkway. The 6-year-old Broski enthusiastically dug in the dirt and placed each plant in a pattern. “It’s part of his service project for school,” Stock noted. “He chose the roses.”
What started with Orville and Jessica Carpentier, who lived across the street from the railroad tracks, deciding to “tidy up their front yard,” has become a community mission.
On any given Saturday a dedicated group of gardeners can be found along the stretch of land between Birmingham and Chesterfield drives beside the railroad tracks.
“We want it to be an example for other communities and other businesses that you can have water-wise, chemical-free areas that are still lush,” Lee said. “Not to mention that it is less-expensive to maintain.”
Described as “frugal, practical and pretty,” the park has tremendous community support.
“We’ve had a dedicated group of volunteers who are cleaning out the massive amounts of trash at either end of the park,” Lee said as she discussed future plans to light the park and create additional gardening opportunities for residents.
Friends of the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library board member Susan Hays was one such participant during the Spring Fling. As with many past Saturdays, Hays donned a cap and sweatshirt with her hands steadily working to move plants, clean and plant donated flowers. Others casually strolled into the parkway to toss seeds handed out by Lee in hopes that they would leave a lasting impression. “It’s nice to know I contributed in some small way,” said Tom Jenkins, a visitor from Minnesota.