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Planting Trees and ‘Herding Cats’

Planting Trees and ‘Herding Cats’
Words Carol Guild

Dan St. John has a passion for the Miners Foundry. He’s not one to brag or boast. Neither are the other volunteers who worked with him on the Miners Foundry landscape project, but a lot of fingers are pointing his way as the guy who gets things done — consistently.

Dan, who has served on Foundry committees before, came on board as the volunteer project coordinator, and, as Miners Foundry Executive Director Gretchen Bond dubs him, “Foundry volunteer extraordinaire.”

With the help of Nevada City Rotary, 49er Rotary, Rotary District 5190, Master Gardener Lyn Muth, Mike Nevius, Architect Diana Knutson, Boy Scout Troop 855, Eagle Scout McKiernan Flaherty, Wayne Brown Correctional Institute minimum security inmates, friends, family, family friends, friends of friends — well, you get the picture — Dan took the project to completion.

There was a lot of designing, planning, digging, uprooting, weeding, hauling, laying and planting to beautify this historic landmark.

Five invasive trees were removed and replaced with ornamental trees, which include:

• Japanese Maple

• Flowering Cherry

• Flowering Plum

• Red leaf Plum

• Redbud

Dan will plant one more tree, a native Dogwood that will live in the front of the Foundry. “But, I have
to wait until next February to dig it up from John Parent’s front yard,” he said. Thankfully for us, Dan’s
work is never really done. As for plants, Dan said there are about 200 individual plants from about 40
different species. Many were donated.

“My wife, Betsy, donated many plants from her gardens,” he said. “Lyn Muth and other master gardeners donated many plants as well. A-Z Garden Center donated some plants and gave me discounts on all other purchases.”

Some plants were also purchased from Prospector Nursery and Nevada County Farm Supply, both providing discounts and donations. “Hansen Bros. gave us a nice discount on soil, which made (the ground) more hospitable to plants,” he said.

Master Gardener Lyn Muth kindly volunteered to give plant recommendations and drew up designs for the project. “Dan was the moving force behind this project,” she said. “He spent so much time being there. I’m a bit-player … just my creativity. Dan’s blood, sweat, tears, and going through how many pairs of knee pads … He really deserves a lot of credit for this.”

McKiernan Flaherty took on the front gardens as his Eagle Scout project.

“I was really interested in this project,” he said. “And I was fortunately able to meet a lot of great people through this.”

Dan inspired McKiernan with his dedication to the project. “He is incredibly devout to the Foundry,” said Flaherty. “Just to see how much passion he has for the Foundry helped me to say this is something I want to take on as my Eagle project.”

The list of things Dan did or facilitated is long. From the onset of planning, through placement of historic artifacts and irrigation, Dan has been the driving force behind the project.

“His project management skills and tireless devotion to the project saw our dream become a reality,” said Gretchen.

“You’re correct,” Dan admits. “I worked a lot on this project. I dug in the dirt, shopped for plants, hunted for volunteers … but, as I told Gretchen, (he laughs) one of the big parts of my job was just ‘herding cats!’”