“Gardens and flowers have a way of bringing people together.”
— Clare Ansberry
No truer words could be written about the garden south of the Evergreen Metropolitan District on Highway 73.
Known as the dam garden, its blooms attract visitors from May to October while its maintenance brings Evergreen Garden Club members together every Friday morning.
Dale and Peggy Fetchenhier of Evergreen head the group of gardeners, working tirelessly every week since they helped create it 18 years ago.
“Peggy and Dale are the reason this garden is so wonderful,” said Jo Powers, who was pulling weeds in the garden alongside the Fetchenhiers last Friday. “They have spent so much time and effort on the garden. I help a little, and others help a little. It’s their baby, their garden. I want everybody to know this beautiful garden is because of them.”
In 1996, the Evergreen Metropolitan District asked the Evergreen Garden Club to maintain the area in front of the dam.
“We said we would do it if we could have a garden,” Peggy said. She and Dale were part of a group that helped design it. The water district provides the plants, while the garden club provides the labor.
Peggy said their goal is to cultivate plants that grow well at Evergreen’s elevation and in its climate, and that can withstand visits from elk and deer.
That brings in the other piece of what makes the dam garden so special: education.
As the gardeners work, visitors stop by to ask questions and get advice about what grows well and what elk won’t eat.
“A lot of (gardening) up here is just trial and error,” Peggy said. “Sometimes (moving a plant) a few inches or feet can make a difference.”
Over the years, the Fetchenhiers have volunteered thousands of hours and planted thousands of flora at the dam garden.
“I love this community. I’m proud of Evergreen, and I want to create something that pleases people,” Peggy said of their commitment to the garden.
Dave Lighthart, Evergreen Metropolitan District executive director, called Dale and Peggy excellent people to work with.
“Their work speaks for itself,” Lighthart said. “The district really appreciates their work in the garden.”
The dam garden is not the couple’s only planting endeavor. They have gardens at home, plus they help maintain the gardens at Evergreen Lutheran Church.
Gardening has helped keep the couple’s 41-year marriage growing, too. They figure they’re more dedicated to the dam garden because they do the work together.
“We spend a lot of time on the garden,” Dale said. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s such a beautiful location. People thank us for our work, and they comment on how beautiful it is. There’s a lot of satisfaction when people appreciate our work.”