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Secret's out on gardens
Library's nature areas open to learning
Garden WEB 1
Debbie Rainey, a Forsyth County Master Gardener, gives a tour of the “Secret Garden” behind the Cumming branch of the Forsyth County Public Library. - photo by Autumn Vetter

There’s a secret at the Cumming library.

While it’s somewhat hidden, the public is invited to visit the library’s garden, located behind the building.

“It is secret,” said Debbie Rainey, one of four Forsyth County Master Gardeners who maintains the spot, which appropriately enough is called the Secret Garden.

It’s one of three public gardens housed at a Forsyth County library branch. The others are the Bookworm Garden at Sharon Forks in south Forsyth, and the Garden Plot at Hampton Park on the county’s north end.

Kathy Weintraub, a spokeswoman for the Master Gardeners, said the gardens are part of the group’s efforts to beautify the county while educating residents about plants and their care.

“Just besides the beauty of them, it’s the learning experience,” she said. “When people call our Master Gardener hotline and have questions … we’ll suggest to them, ‘Hey, why don’t you head out to such-and-such library garden and you’ll get some ideas.’”

She explained that each garden has a certain theme. For instance, The Secret Garden is drought tolerant, meaning most of its plants can thrive on less water.

“It’s one of our demonstration gardens, which means there’s a purpose behind it,” Rainey said. “This one is good because right now with the lack of rain, this shows that you can plant things that bloom and are really pretty but they don’t need as much water.”

Weintraub said each of the library gardens offer different ideas to community gardeners.

“At each of them, we’ve got a cute little mailbox that’s decorated with flowers or butterflies or whatever and inside we have brochures that talk about the different things that have to do with that garden,” she said.

They also provide areas of tranquility for the community.

“A lot of people don’t have that at their homes, especially if they live in an apartment or something, they might not have the nice, big, peaceful areas where they can just sit and enjoy,” Weintraub said. “In our library gardens, they can pretend it’s their own and just enjoy the peace and quiet.”

Weintraub said each respective community seems to enjoy their library garden.

“Hampton Park is the newest one … whenever I’m working in that garden, I’m always surprised because I’ll know the library isn’t open, but all these cars come by and I realize that people in the neighborhood use it go for walks … their kids come in and they talk and they show the little kids the flowers and the butterflies,” she said.

“And at Sharon Forks … when you go in you’ve got a sun garden and then a huge shade garden with several benches. I see people checking out a book and going over and sitting on the benches for a while.”

While the gardens are fairly well-used, Weintraub hopes more people will take advantage of them.

“We want people to know there’s a lot more to it than just running in and checking out a book,” she said. “Stop, stay a while, check out the garden, get some ideas.”