Curtis Clark (left), who is the volunteer facilities coordinator of Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens, and Glen Ryles of GL Homes built the Shade House in November.
The new shade house at the Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens has not only been a dream for many years, it also marks the first successful fundraising project for group of volunteers.
“It’s the first time as a group we took on a mission rather large,” said Joleen King, president of the board of directors for the Friends of the Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens Inc. “It’s also the first time we took something off the drawing board and made it a reality.”
The 20-by-24-foot house cost more than $5,000, which the group raised with donations from GL Homes, which gave nearly $3,000, and the St. Lucie West Garden Club, which gave $1,000.
Smaller donations came from its members. The shade house will allow the group to grow more plants that they will sell to raise money as well as install at the gardens.
For Friends member Brenda Gustafson of Port St. Lucie, the beauty of the house is that they can raise plants from seedlings, and they can now grow a larger variety, including house plants.
They will even grow plants from cuttings of plants on-site, so if someone wants to know what a plant will look like once it’s grown, volunteers can give them a better idea.
“It will be nice to have a controlled environment and to have the public have access to it,” Gustafson said.
The goal is to expand educational programs and provide space for other groups, such as schools, to use.
The kit arrived in early November and construction, which started in early December, took only two weeks.
Curtis Clark, who is the Friends’ handyman, helped build the house over a 10-day period and put finishing touches on the house to make it more secure for different types of weather.
Irrigation and electricity also were installed.
“There are so many things we can do with this simple structure,” Clark, a retired school district facility manager and firefighter, said. “That’s the greatest thing about this. It will do so many more things when we’re done.”
The prospect of being able to use the shade house is truly exciting for Gustafson, who has volunteered with the group for about two years.
“We will be able to supply plants to the garden all year, and it’s going to be a great benefit to our garden and the community,” she said.
Currently, the group grows about 200 to 500 plants a year, but with the new grow house, she expects to double that number.
The Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens, at 2410 S.E. Westmoreland Blvd., is a 20-acre site next to the St. Lucie River’s north fork near Port St. Lucie Boulevard. It includes a variety of gardens such as a bamboo garden, bromeliad island garden, a butterfly garden, a cactus and succulent garden, and a dune garden.
Keeping the gardens going and making the site beautiful is a true love for the members like Clark, who wants others to realize what they have in the center of the city.
“The gardens is a gem in the center of the city,” he said.