New Gardener At Warsaw Central Park Gardens

With nearly 200 varieties of both annual and perennial plants at Warsaw’s Central Park Gardens, the gardens are made possible by a donation creating an endowment at the Kosciusko County Community Foundation in 1996. Robert and Roma Maish, former owners of Little Crow Foods, were the donors.

Toshiko Gunter, the long-time gardener, announced her retirement after 14 years. “I could only dream to one day know half as much as she does about flowers and plants,” said Shaun Gardner, maintenance director with the Warsaw Parks Recreation Department. “We are sad to see her retire, but she’s definitely earned it,” he added.

Lily, originally from Oregon and now living in Warsaw for 10 years, noticed the job posting on Facebook. “My mom was a gardener and taught me everything about flowers, weeding, and transplanting since I was just three years old,” she said. Lily furthered her knowledge by attending Oregon State University’s Department of Horticulture and maintained botanical gardens along the way. “I love this area and feel honored to be working alongside Toshiko’s mentorship as I learn the little secrets to these beautiful gardens,” she said.

“Tulips! I love tulips even with the deer loving them, too,” she said with a smile. She further shared that daffodils would be an alternative since the deer won’t touch them. “Another flower I’m proud of at Central Park are the purple alliums. I love how they appear like they are floating in the gardens and such a unique addition to this space.”

When asked for tips on what Lily would share with those considering gardening, she said to keep trying. “Please don’t assume you have a green or black thumb from trying something that didn’t quite work out the way you anticipated. Please keep trying! That’s the fun part about gardening is sometimes it’s just a small tweak to the plan, like more or less water or sunlight, to get you the results you were hoping for.”

Stephanie Overbey, CEO at the Community Foundation, shared that the beautiful part of this endowment is that is will be here forever. “The principal of this gift is still here, and it is still invested and earning. The income made available from this fund supports the maintenance of the gardens every year – the plants, the flowers, any repairs that need to be done to any of the infrastructure, and the gardener.”

Located at the corner of Canal and Detroit streets, the community is encouraged to tour through to see what new blooms are in season at the gardens. Lily can be found at Central Park Gardens between 30-minutes to an hour a day, seven days a week. “It’s been a joy learning both the history of the gardens and the stories of those who have cared for it over the years,” she said. “Thank you for trusting me to follow in the footsteps of those who took immense care of the gardens in this wonderful community.”