Design Plan for the Enabling GardenPaula Winslow a long time citizen of Altoona, spearheaded the creation of an “enabling garden” concept. She was inspired by a magazine article about Gene Rothert, manager of the urban horticulture at the Chicago Botanic Garden, who wrote a book on the subject.

After completing her master gardening training, Paula decided to give something back to the community she was raised in. Paula began brain storming ideas for an “enabling garden” here in Altoona.

Paula approached the city of Altoona with a plan in hand.

She promised the city there would be no administrative costs to the city; and the garden’s day to day operation would be taken care of by the ISU Polk County Master Gardeners.

The garden was created as a cooperative effort between the Polk County Extension, ISU Polk County Master Gardeners, and the city of Altoona.

The city offered the garden’s current site South of HyVee in 2002. A garden was born and has grown every year since.

Vic Scott donated his talents to creating a landscape architectural plan to be used by the garden and a as a fund raising tool.

The next step was to raise the funds to start a garden which was achieved by going door to door, sending out fliers about the garden plan, selling bricks for the name wall, speaking to service clubs, and of course applying for grants.

Thanks to the generosity of many people, way to many to mention, the garden was well on its way to how it stands today. Almost two glorious acres, its hard to believe one persons dream came this far in 12 years through volunteers and fund raising.

As of 2014 the garden has 26 volunteers that donate endless hours of their time each year.

 The Enabling Garden “Where Disabilities Become Abilities”.

  • 2002
    • Fund raising and planning.
  • 2003
    • Pergola
    • Four tall brick planters
    • Two wooden tall planters
  • 2004
    • Wooden benches
    • Four tall trellises and with window boxes
    • Compost bins
    • Cemented area under pergola
    • Wooden benches
    • Four tall trellises and with window boxes
    • Compost bins
    • Cemented area under pergola
  • 2005
    • First Arbor day celebration
    • Begin offering learning talks and various subjects garden related.
    • Benches around pergola posts
    • Podium
    • Signage rock engraved with gardens name
    • Brick name wall
    • North side brick shed
  • 2006
    • Grant from Fiskar’s supplying garden with tools and money for plants.
  • 2007
    • Rain garden
  • 2008
    • Small step back. City installs storm run culvert for first avenue water run off.
  • 2009
    • Another challenging year as city has fenced off the bike path and parking lot to build the Civic Plaza.   Its going to be beautiful when completed.
  • 2010
    • Water feature
    • Praying Mantis sculpture “Praying for Prey” by John Brommel
  • 2011
    • Fence around rain garden
    • Honey bee sculpture “Believe in the Bee” by John Brommel
    • Lady beetle sculpture “Saving Grace” by John Brommel
    • South side brick shed built
    • Install wind spinner on north side of garden, donated by a local citizen.
  • 2012
    • Began working on brick sign facing 1st Ave.
    • Re-place top of wind spinner that was stolen for scrap metal.
  • 2013
    • Completion of brick sign
  • 2014
    • Begin a new design for the south end of the garden. The design will include a large cedar arbor, a children’s area, boulders, and new landscape design.
    • The arbor completed spring of this year.

Learn more about our mission at the Enabling Garden

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