Philly's Friends

Philly's Friends is the gardening group (dedicated to St Philomena, patroness of gardeners) formed under the guidance of the parish cemetery committee. The members of this group improve the cemetery’s landscaping, and learn more about plants (especially xeric plants) and gardening. A cemetery directory is also in development.

The cemetery landscaping project by Philly's Friends has begun. The first trees were planted as the beginning of the landscaping and windbreak on the cemetery's west side on Saturday, July 12, 2003. The area next to the cemetery's westernmost row of graves was leveled the night before by Elias Maez of Maez Drilling, who also provided a group of boulders to protect the newly-planted trees by blocking vehicle access to this area. The trees were planted by Philly's Friends including Moises Candelaria, Phil King, Ivan Silva, and Orlando Cable.

After holding a seminar on drip irrigation systems, we started installing the PVC pipe for one portion of our drip irrigation system on August 2, 2003. Matt Salazar and Ivan Silva worked hard on this installation. Moises Candelaria, Phil King, and Ivan Silva worked with us to get the anti-siphon unit, drip control box, watering timers (donated by Ewing Irrigation), valves, and primary lines connected and working two weeks later. Moises Candelaria and members of the Vargas family worked hard to plant the Russian sage and lavender plants on August 23, finishing the planting work we’ve done so far. More work was done in September and October making initial preparations for the walkway in this first landscape area.

More activity took place in November. Philly's Friends Moises Candelaria, Ivan Silva, David Sanchez, and Orlando Cable, with Confirmation candidate volunteers, did a huge amount of work alongside the cemetery access road. First the area was cleared of weeds, rocks, and trash. Then the entire area was covered with a bark mulch previously donated to the cemetery.

The Philly's Friends workshops are supported by the Valencia County Extension Office and County Extension Officer Frank Holguin, and by members of the Valencia County Extension Master Gardeners organization.

Philly's Friends was largely inactive in 2004, due to its leader's injury, but expects to be active again in 2005.

The cemetery landscaping project by Philly's Friends is back in “high gear.” After maintenance tasks were completed, work got under way on this year’s major improvements.

The primary mulching process has begun in the landscaped area next to the westernmost row of graves in the cemetery’s “current section”, working uphill from the south end of the area. Thick layers of newspapers, bark, and wood mulch are being laid down over the planted area to suppress weed growth and retain moisture for the plants. Iris plants are being added, too, to increase the cemetery’s natural spring flowers. Philly's Friends Janet Vigil, Elsie Otero, and Elsie’s granddaughter Rosalind, have been helping with the planting and mulching of the “river of iris.”

Another big part of the landscaping effort got under way at the end of July. Philly's Friends David Sanchez, Tony Gallegos, and Moises Candelaria joined us to lay railroad ties along the edge of the walkway bordering the planted area. About half that task was completed on July 30th; the other half on August 6th. It looks great! We added to that by setting the benches two weeks later. These additions have really made the area look nice! Stop by and see for yourselves.

Fall 2006
All the plants placed in the landscaping by Philly’s Friends have been thriving this year. Unfortunately, so have the weeds, so a lot of the limited time available this year was spent on maintenance. Even so, we would have lost to the weeds if it hadn't been for the outstanding work of Joe Otero and those he recruited this fall in clearing the entire current cemetery section of weeds.

One significant improvement going in this fall is a new retaining wall, shown in the picture immediately above. The materials for this wall were donated by the Home Depot Garden Center. David Sanchez and Michael Padilla, with Michael’s sons Neil and Michael, came in as volunteers to help make the wall a reality. They did beautiful work, as can be seen better in another view of the wall, below.

Behind the retaining wall, we plan to remove the existing fence, fill in the soil, and prepare a pad or platform area for use with the pavilion.