Why the flowers died

They were planted in a great hurry and at the wrong time so the roots froze and died slowly and went to their graveyard

Re: “Where have all the flowers gone?” Mirror, July 4, 2012

Mr. Larry Sampson, newly-elected councillor in November 2011, is referring to a 200-ft. stretch of landscaping along the Old Island Highway between Simms Road and Forberg Road.  My husband and I, have lived here for 21+ years and enjoyed the panoramic view of the mountains, ocean, islands and cruise ships in season.

The so-called vegetation plants referred to in the newspaper article survived the warranty period and then died according to Mr. Milnthorp, city general manager.  Just plain common sense would prompt Mr. Milnthorp and Mr. Sampson to ask the question “When did the planting take place?” My husband and I, were puzzled  as to why this was being done in such cold, freezing and stormy weather and questioned the contractors and landscapers. The answer was that a deadline had to be met in order to receive funding from the government. I suggested that the plants could be paid for and then put aside until later in the spring. However, they were merely following orders, and the subsequent articles in the newspapers confirmed that the date of completion had been met.

Gardeners and farmers do not plant seeds, vegetables and flowers unless the weather is favourable for germination and rooting. St. John’s Wort (a flowering, hardy perennial) was placed in the ground during March 2011, when it was bitterly cold and did not root properly. For a short while, there was a mantle of green which then turned brown and I was trying to revive these plants in front of our property by watering during the months of July and August. They did not survive the fall and winter. The weeds and grass grew rapidly this spring, some to a height of 18-20 inches, but very few St. John’s Wort plants.

The soil was tested at a nursery for poison, but none was found. If there had been poison in the soil, it is obvious that the weeds and grass would be poisoned as well. I was so tired of looking at the tall weeds and grass that on June 20, 21 and 22, I spent hours pulling out the grass and weeds and then planted four rows of marigolds in the bare areas and around some remaining St. John’s Wort.  On Wednesday, June 27, I brought in several more trays to plant in the upper portion of the area in front of our home. Shortly thereafter, a city employee drove up and parked his truck in front and began measuring frontage road. I jokingly asked if he had come to thank or pay me for  my labour – instead the information given was that at the previous evening’s meeting (Tuesday, June 26), council had voted to replant the area with either turf or plants. I then asked who was going to do the grassmowing, watering, weeding and the additional cost to us taxpayers, but there was no clear answer.

Trees were also removed around the lift station and the SeaWalk and later replaced (one illegally between two evergreen trees). During the stormy weather, some of the newly planted trees that were not sheltered, were constantly blown down by strong winds, partially or completely.  People on the SeaWalk and city employees were tying up, staking or replanting these trees, but the windy weather continued for a while.

During the construction period, we were constantly reminded that the value of our property would rise considerably due to the enhancement and landscaping of the highway.  Well, we put up with the noise six days per week (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and the daily difficulty of getting in and out of our driveways that was to be expected and at no time did we complain.

Yes, we sure have added value now – the stench of raw sewage when opening our windows or stepping outside. The smell  is overpowering  from Simms to halfway to Rockland Road and then up to Discovery Passage at certain times. The right thing to do is for the City of Campbell River is just to admit that mistakes were made in order to rush and meet the completion date in order to receive the government funding.  Stop blaming and wondering “What Happened?” The plants were definitely not poisoned – they were planted in a great hurry and at the wrong time so the roots froze and died slowly and went to their graveyard. As the song goes: “When will they ever learn?” i.e. city employees – use a bit of common sense.

S. Ruth McReynolds

Campbell River