The Hawkins City Park project began the summer of 2018 with the flowerbed at the pavilion. Long-time Hawkins residents, Pat Harris and LaJuan Hickey, who had been taking care of the flowerbed for many years, could no longer do so due to health issues. They approached the Wood County Master Gardeners for consideration of this location as a project. Upon approval of the AgriLife Extension agent and the president of the Master Gardeners, the rest is history.
The pavilion flowerbed consisted of an oval (30’ by 15’) planting area with a crape myrtle centered between four knockout rose bushes. There were two lantanas at each end of the flowerbed and zinnias filled the remaining area. With no budget for the project, members provided plants from their home gardens. Over the years, the pavilion flowerbed has been converted to a pollinator-friendly flowerbed. Volunteers installed signage about pollinators and planted Texas wildflower seeds. A variety of butterflies come to this garden along with other creatures such as birds, toads, frogs, moths, and praying mantis proving that a healthy habitat supports the ecosystem.
The pavilion is the location for the annual Easter Egg Hunt, Pancake Festival (spring), Oil Festival (fall), and Christmas in the Park. Master Gardeners provide plant information, answer questions, distribute informational materials, and give out free seeds and bulbs from the gardens at these events. Garden tours are also led by the members at this location. An educational series was held at the pavilion in 2022 and a Science Days event is planned for 2023.
In 2019, with a total park budget of $50, a small round flowerbed near the splash pad and playground was revitalized with soil from the city, and plants from members. This flowerbed was added to the Hawkins City Park project. Given the location of this flowerbed, the vision was a Sensory Garden that children could touch, see, smell, and hear. A donated windchime provided beautiful sound and a whirly gig provided movement.
By 2020, the City Library Director, Norma Hallmark, noticed the Wood County Master Gardeners work. She wanted the Master Gardeners to help with the library flowerbeds. She sought approval from the AgriLife Extension agent and this location was added to the project. The total budget for all three flowerbeds was $150. These two library beds had knockout roses at one end of an oval bed and nandina up against the brick wall. It was decided to make this location into a specimen garden for the home gardener. Volunteers created a brochure listing the plants located in these flowerbeds and highlighting sun and water requirements, color of flower, and growth habit. Extra seeds were provided by the Master Gardeners to the patrons of the library. The library director refers all questions and comments to the project leader, Ann Reynolds.
Today with a budget of $250, all three flowerbeds flourish with annuals, Texas natives, herbs, and perennials. The original project leader, Ann Reynolds, continues to write a garden article quarterly for the Big Sandy Hawkins Journal to educate the public, not only about plants but also about the Master Gardener program. She has given informational talks about the program to DAR, Hawkins Study Club, Holly Gardeners, and Kiwanis. A segment about plants was taught to 60 Hawkins elementary kindergarteners. The flowerbeds have been recognized and awarded a plaque by the Jim Hogg Chapter of the DAR and featured on KLTV.