Big idea behind Buds and Blooms | Andy Hobbs

One idea blooming in Federal Way is the community garden. It is an idea worth growing.

Last weekend's sunny weather paired perfectly with the city's Buds and Blooms festival, which highlighted six local gardening hotspots:

• PowellsWood, a three-acre private gem near Marine Hills. Owners Monte and Diane Powell offer a thoughtfully manicured landscape with glittering ponds, paths and flowers to suit the season.

• Federal Way Farmers Market, which kicked off its 2010 season on Saturday. Gardening specialists and vendors are a mainstay at the weekly market, which runs through October.

• West Hylebos Wetlands Park has the mother of all boardwalks, winding through the woods and wetlands like a fairy-tale trail. The Barker Cabin at the park's entrance is a magnet for history presentations by the Historical Society of Federal Way.

• Rhododendron Species and Botanical Garden is the best rhody garden on the planet. See it to believe it. Walk the paths and soak up the blossoms.

• Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection temporarily opened for last weekend's festival. David DeGroot and crew do justice to this classic Japanese art. For economic reasons, the collection closed to the public in 2009.

• Federal Way Senior Center's Community Garden is the gardener's garden. Master Gardener Mike Stanley and crew feed a lot of people, but also educate the community on the ways of soil, water and seed.

By mid-day Saturday, the festival had attracted hundreds of visitors at each site. The beautiful weather helped the turnout, but there was a bigger message: The gardens, individually and as a collection, are attractions worth checking out.

This coincides with an idea of cultivating a garden-friendly reputation for Federal Way. Mike Stanley is among local leaders wanting to establish a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading gardens across the city. Plans are in the works to build community gardens at Camelot Square mobile home park and Truman High School.

Like the senior center's community garden, volunteers would be a driving force. The produce will stock local food pantries, or fuel more Meals on Wheels.

Community gardens cross-pollinate nature and charity. The gardens appeal to all ages, establishing common ground for leaders, volunteers and youth. The gardens supplement the diets of hungry families while forging community connections.

Most important, the gardens are a creation, built from scratch to serve a greater purpose. The creation of a thriving garden collection can open new doors for Federal Way, including increased tourism and stocked food pantries.

The best luck comes to those who create their luck. Federal Way is planting the right seeds.

Spreading the gardens

In this short video, Master Gardener Mike Stanley touches on plans to expand the community garden concept in Federal Way:

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