SPRING HILL — The Spring Hill Garden Club is looking for a few people who like to play in the dirt — specifically at the waterfall entrance to Spring Hill.
The garden club has maintained the oasis of greenery and flowers, along with two median islands, at U.S. 19 and Spring Hill Drive since 1978.
The club has 68 members. But many are elderly or have jobs, and some devote their volunteer hours to the club's plant nursery on nearby Parker Avenue or the adjacent Nature Coast Botanical Gardens.
Caretakers for the waterfall site are down to three: Deb Swanson, 58, project chairwoman; her husband, Gerry Wroblewski, 67, and Beverly Salkin, club secretary, 60.
They all sweated Wednesday morning — one of two workdays each week — as they weeded, pruned and, more importantly, repaired damage from a vehicle crash Tuesday night.
Wroblewski spread topsoil over tire ruts in the sod and watered it. The trio had to reset concrete curbing blocks around the plantings, tossed asunder in the accident.
The club is nothing but efficient. The replacement soil came from saved poinsettia plant pots placed at the waterfall before last Christmas. Annual and perennial plants have been donated by members who grow them at home. Currently blooming are marigolds; beach sunflower, which will flower into December; native gaillardia daisies in hues of yellow, orange and red; purple-leafed oyster plant; periwinkle-colored plumbago, and cerise crepe myrtle.
Foundation plantings of azaleas, elephant leaf and silverthorn are in need of pruning.
The work is a challenge for three people.
"We need at least two more (volunteers)," Salkin said.
"Five more," Swanson suggested.
As the club put out its plea for help last week, Spring Hill resident Phil Woodward, a retiree, volunteered to mow the grassy areas, which should save the trio at least two hours twice a week during the summer.
Brown splotches have invaded the turf.
"The toughest is getting the sprinkler system going," Swanson said.
Sprinkler heads have been broken by vehicles running over the patch — not just by frequent accidents at the busy intersection, but by law enforcement officers pursuing errant drivers who pull over onto the turf, Swanson said.
The club had to insert plugs of St. Augustine grass last fall.
"We wanted something that would look good right away," Swanson explained, "and it was the cheapest."
They over-seeded with rye grass for the winter. But their aim is to plant native ground covers and perhaps replace the thirsty St. Augustine with Bahia grass, which requires less water.
Before the current trio of volunteers took on the job, Jim and Jeanne Erickson had cared for the entrance for 15 years, renewing the original landscape planted by the county, which owns the plot.
"They did a fantastic job," Swanson said.
If more volunteers cannot be found to tend to the site, the garden club will have to turn it back to the county for maintenance, not something the club wants to do during the county's current financial crunch.
The three volunteers want to continue their work. They just need some help.
"I want to give back to the community, Salkin said. "This is something we all do for the love of it."
Swanson added, as she continued pulling weeds: "This is my heart here."
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.