Loney Hill Gardens has been a fixture in downtown Spokane, Washington since the early 1950s. Since then, this beautiful setting has seen many a picnic, impromptu game of tag, and stolen kiss. Originally developed as a project of the local gardening club to display award-winning cultivars of various flowers, Loney Hill Gardens blossomed in popularity with the public. As a result, the city and gardening club expanded it to include a gazebo, picnic area, playground, and an activity hall.
In its heyday, Loney Hill Gardens hosted a variety of events including dances, summer concerts and movies, and horticulture classes, all free and open to the public. Even as developments started to surround it on all sides, this conservatory remained a tranquil oasis of nature and beauty within the city. Dedicated volunteers from the gardening club gave generously of their time and energy for its upkeep, and to promote a love of floriculture. Unfortunately for the community, Loney Hill Gardens is now facing a threat that extends beyond the occasional wad of chewing gum stuck to the bottom of a jogger’s shoe.
As the encroachment of businesses on the outskirts of this lovely area has increased in the past decade, one recent building in particular has drawn unwelcome attention to Loney Hill Gardens. The developers of the new strip mall that opened last month are now pressuring the city council to bulldoze Loney Hill Gardens, and pave it over as a parking lot for mall patrons. They say the current on-street parking is inadequate, and cite a five-year drop in guests at the Gardens as their most compelling reasoning for doing away with it. The developers have reportedly made a substantial offer to the city for the land. Fortunately, the city council is putting the matter into the public’s hands at the next council meeting.
Even for those not interested in gardening, Loney Hill Gardens is well worth saving. Why is that? The first answer is simple. Many people know that nature works wonders for the human spirit. This is a place where people living and working in such a fast-paced city as Spokane can go to get away from it all. People are more productive and efficient when they have a place to go to recharge or enjoy down time. Loney Hill Gardens is central to downtown Spokane and is a popular place for people to take their lunch break away from the hustle and bustle.
Despite the threat to their pet project of over five decades, the gardening club continues to offer classes in the activity hall. These include workshops on general gardening, growing and maintaining flower beds and vegetable gardens, and backyard landscaping. These classes have always been offered for free, making them easily accessible to everyone. Loney Hill Gardens serves as a place for not just inspiration, but also education.
Finally, the Gardens have a long history in Spokane. Ever since they first opened in the 1950s, residents have enjoyed all they have to offer. Ask any lifelong resident, and they may share fond remembrances of dancing in the gazebo underneath the stars, watching a movie with their family on the grass on a summer’s night, or something as simple as walking the gravel paths when all the roses are in bloom. Even if use of the Gardens has declined, there are thousands of people who would be devastated to see it meet such an ignoble end.
If those thousands, however, turn out to the city council meeting to show the elected officials how they feel, they can help us save Loney Hill Gardens. We also believe we can increase patronage and attendance at events at the Gardens by turning to modern technology. The gardening club has unveiled a website dedicated to this landmark and are using social media to spread the word about saving it. We ask that all residents of Spokane turn out for the council meeting to make their voices heard. Together, we can save this place that holds so much meaning to so many people, and preserve it for future generations to enjoy.