Pocket gardens in Muskegon like the Monet Garden are hidden treasures

MOSCOW, Michigan – The Monet Garden of Muskegon, a small garden inspired by the famous painter Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny, France, will see an assortment of flowers blooming this summer.

Pocket gardens have long been considered hidden treasures in communities, where clusters of colorful flowers and foliage are inserted into spaces of various sizes.

Jean Baker, a volunteer farmer with Lakeshore Garden Masters, said Muskegon’s four pocket gardens have had a positive impact on the community.

“It makes people feel serenity and calm when they visit these gardens,” Baker said. “It adds to the atmosphere of the downtown area and makes Muskegon a better place to go.”

Monet’s Garden, at the corner of Fifth Street and Clay Avenue in downtown Muskegon, repeats a portion of Monet’s Garden Giverny, about two hours west of Paris, complete with Monet’s blue pedestrian bridge and water lilies. Monet painted some of his most famous paintings in the home, where he lived from 1883 until his death in 1926.

Each pocket garden is a miniature display of different plants and wildlife in a small space.

Monet Garden works on donations only. Volunteers recently completed a donation drive to upgrade the landscape and plant new flowers.

Before spring each year, volunteers use the lighter months to prepare for the garden’s annual planting day on May 24. After that, the flowers slowly begin to bloom for the community.

The garden dates back 20 years and was first started as an idea by Florence Bright of Muskegon, a Gardner master who lived in a pink Victorian house.

Volunteers say Bright has been living next door to an empty plot of town and wants to see improvement. Before long, I reached out to Master Gardeners in the Muskegon area and the city of Muskegon to create a miniature version of Monet’s Garden on a small plot of land in the city.

Master Gardeners, who have completed extensive horticultural training through the Muskegon County MSU Extension Service, pledged to be responsible for its maintenance when it was designated in 2002.

“She[Florence Bright]wanted something nice for Muskegon,” Baker said. “It was a fairly deserted area, and it kind of started that renaissance in downtown Muskegon.”

Now, Baker said many people across western Michigan are using the space for weddings.

“They are all completely free,” Becker said. “And they exist because Florence has planted the seed of gardening in so many minds.”

New flowers such as perennials, Lenten Roses and hundreds of tulips are expected to bloom in the coming summer months, she said.

The park is also home to the Monarch Waystation to provide habitat for caterpillars and butterflies.

The other three pocket parks in the area are:

  1. Heritage Memorial Garden, 545 W. Western Ave. , dedicated downtown in 2005. Two memorial fountains located in the garden and gazebo serve as a center for floral design.
  2. Shakespeare Garden, 996-1046 Third Street in the South Lawn of the Hackley Public Library, dedicated 2014. It includes a whimsical statue of a large frog reading to a small frog and a resting bench that doubles as a stacked book sculpture.
  3. Victorian Garden, 1299 Jefferson Street, corner of Jefferson Street and Strong Avenue. The site of a historic house that was burnt down on the evening of December 17, 2011.

For those looking to volunteer at the Monet Garden of Muskegon, visit their Facebook page for updates and volunteer hours.

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