Maple Grove resident and city gardener Colleen Hazen always had an eye for natural beauty. With a passion for creating displays that are aesthetically pleasing and a desire to feed into one of her hobbies, Hazen began volunteering as a gardener at the Maple Grove Community Center in 1997. In 2014, she was asked to develop designs the formal garden beds for Central Park in Maple Grove.
Today, Hazen manages and maintains three perennial gardens throughout the city in Central Park, near the Community Center and in the Town Green.
“It is like my own little arboretum,” she says. “It has been a labor of love for me, and I enjoy doing this for my city,” noting that her love for creating something nice for others to admire is what fuels her. “I really love the job, and I love gardening,” Hazen says. “I love making things look nice for people.”
When she began as the city gardener, Hazen was responsible for conceptualizing and creating some of the gardens. From designing, to purchasing and even weeding, Hazen did what was needed to create breathtaking views. Doing it all on her own was time consuming and physically demanding. One year, a group of 50 church members assisted Hazen by cutting back plants, weeding garden beds and mulching the Town Green garden. The effort took a little bit more than an hour to finish, and it would have taken Hazen many, many more hours—if not weeks—to complete on her own. Eventually, the city began hiring one or two seasonal employees in the warmer months to help Hazen tend the gardens.
In an effort to make each garden visually unique, Hazen not only purchases new flowers, but she also transplants some plants from the city gardens (or even her own!) to other city gardens to prevent overgrowth of certain species and the city’s landscaping budget. The dispersal of plants adds for variation of texture and color. “I think another thing that is important to me is the orchestration of color, how the plants go together and how they complement one another,” Hazen says.
In addition to visual diversity, soil type, water access and wildlife all play a role in what items are planted, where they are located and blooming schedules. “As the season goes on and progresses, things change, and [it] is just amazing to me,” Hazen says. “It is just beautiful.”