DUVALL – Barbara Orr spent hours planting more than 100 petunias in her adopted garden at Holy Innocents Parish, hoping the colorful flowers will bring peace to families who have lost children.
“My garden is devoted to the innocent children that are up in heaven and have died before their parents did,” said Orr, a parishioner who began “fostering” the garden in 2006, eventually dedicating it in memory of her 4-year-old great-niece Desirae, who died in a car accident.
“Everything surrounding them up in heaven is beautiful,” Orr said. “They’re happy and I think they’re in a joyful place, which explains all of the bright colors in the garden.”
Parishioner Ed O’Malley pulls weeds in one of the 20 gardens at Holy Innocents Parish in Duvall. Photo: Courtesy Holy Innocents Parish
Orr is just one of many volunteer Holy Gardeners and Holy Mowers who help tend more than 20 gardens and the expansive lawns of the parish campus, which has a picturesque view of Mount Baker.
“We at Holy Innocents recognize the gift and God-given beauty of our site,” said Gail Dimock, the parish’s pastoral life coordinator. “The gardeners and mowers enhance that and make the church a more welcoming place.”
Dimock established the two groups nearly 11 years ago, as a budget-friendly way to maintain the grounds. Over the years, parishioners have planted flowers, grown fruit and vegetables for the parish food pantry, created a meditation garden in the shape of a Celtic Trinity symbol and dedicated a rose garden to Mary.
Every week, four of the 20 members of the Holy Mowers committee mow the upper and lower lawns, which takes about four hours, Dimock said. Parishioners Gary Kelley and Jason Miller train new volunteers, and perform regular equipment maintenance and repairs.
The grounds at Holy Innocents Church in Duvall are maintained by parishioners through the Holy Gardeners and Holy Mowers groups. Photo: Courtesy Holy Innocents Parish
Mitch Nimon, a Holy Innocents parishioner for nearly a decade, joined the mowing effort about two years ago after Dimock put out a call for more volunteers. He mows a few times a month, using his own equipment, and he weeds the gardens and parish grounds.
“It’s a never-ending struggle beating back the jungle here in Washington,” he said.
Many of the mowers, toiling in the summer sun, view their work as an expression of loyalty to their parish, Nimon said.
“You support your church in whatever way you can,” he said, “whether that’s using a little bit of time or a little bit of money.”