Longboat Garden Club adds landscaping to fire station | Longboat Key

When Longboat Key Garden Club volunteer Jim Brown stomped on a shovel to loosen the clam-strewn dirt for a waiting Ixora, a fire engine boomed with its siren and sped out of fire station 92. It was May 22nd as usual the Longboat Key Fire Department.

Elsewhere, other Garden Club members continued their business as usual as they worked on the latest citizen beautification project at the soon-to-be-completed 92 fire station. About a dozen members showed up bright and early, armed with sensible shoes and grubby gloves to plant the native flora around the station.

“Government buildings are usually stern, but not in Longboat Key town,” said Susan Phillips, president of the Garden Club.

The morning began with a tour of the fire station, led by Chef Paul Dezzi, who opened the doors and explained the rooms.

There’s a treatment room for people who come in with mild aches and pains and concerns like chest pain or stingray injuries, which Dezzi said they get about 10 a month. The high-ceilinged fire truck garage has a number of “red, yellow, and green” rooms where firefighters can decontaminate after returning from a fire.

Outside is the red zone where there is contamination. Right inside is the yellow room where firefighters take off their firefighter clothing and toss in a cleaner before taking two showers, and inside is the green room where all carcinogens have been put out.

After the gardeners let go of the waiting plants, it took about 30 minutes to complete the entire project. Members broke off in groups with a shovel at a time and dug into the ground before submerging the plants and reclaiming the hole with clams. Phillips said the club purposely chose drought-resistant native plants to withstand the island’s salty soil after speaking with landscaping companies about what would work best.

“I think with what we have here now, our job is just to keep it going,” said Dezzi.

Up front is Ixora with red flowers that go well with the building’s fire-fighting red accents and a corduroy bed. In the back are royal palms planted by contractors and schefflera with their brightly colored leaves. Dezzi quickly went to water the Schefflera, which was beginning to wither during its time in the small pots.

The Garden Club has a long history of community engagement and runs a citizen beautification project every year. They recently landscaped the building for public works and planted some ornamental plants at the post office.

“It’s wonderful to come back and see what we’ve done,” said Board Member Linda Gidel. “And the residents can see that we are here and we not only organize social events, we are committed to the community.”

The next project of the Garden Club is the north fire station, which will be carried out after the renovation work is complete. Also high on the radar are improvements to the city center green tree lighting site, Phillips said.

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