Member Recognition

Liz Bolender Awarded the Joan and Bob Siebenthaler Bridge to Community Award

During the 2014 Five Rivers MetroParks Employee Recognition, Foundation member and MetroParks Volunteer, Liz Bolender was awarded the 2013 Joan and Bob Siebenthaler Bridge to Community Award for her 44 years of dedicated service. Below you can read the nomination letter and all that Liz has accomplished and continues to accomplish at Cox Arboretum MetroPark.

Thank you Liz for your dedication and support in making the Arboretum a beautiful place for all to enjoy!

Nomination Letter

dscf5600Mrs. Bolender became a volunteer at Cox Arboretum MetroPark in 1970, soon after the Junior League launched the volunteer program. Her important contributions involve bringing plants and people together and introducing countless visitors to the Arboretum, our park district and other places in and around our community and beyond that were working towards the same goals. She remembers attending one of the Arboretum's first plant sales and saw a sign that said, "Volunteers Needed" so she signed up. "It took someone a year to call me back" she recalls, but Liz, being a patient person, never lost her interest in the opportunity to work with plants and people, and what a difference it has made to the Arboretum and MetroParks.

Liz brings a passion for gardening that has helped sustain Cox Arboretum MetroPark almost since its inception. Her work in developing the Arboretum's first and second rock gardens began when friend Nancy Pansing advised her on potential plants for our alkaline clay soils in a small rock garden...Liz was hooked. She accepted the challenge of alpine gardening and began her meticulous and educational research, seeking plants for the Arboretum's first Rock Garden. Liz immediately connected with local rock garden maven Harry Butler to begin collecting suitable plants for the garden, as well as connecting with other gardens in the Ohio Valley. Her goal was to make connections with like-minded indivstonewall and rock gardensiduals in our region and bring gardening education to people of all backgrounds.

Liz started with only a few volunteers and grew her Rock Garden group into one of the largest and most self sustaining groups at Cox. Her leadership, vision and hands on instruction taught thousands the basics of rock gardening in the Midwest.

Liz is a limetime member of the Ohio Valley Rock Garden Society and was the Plant Sale Chairman for over two decades. She was instrumental in introducing the concept of rock gardens to our community as well as offering plants appropriate for a rock garden to community members. Liz admits that SW Ohio is not ideal for rock gardens due to high humidity during the summer - "that's hard on alpine plants." But through her research and much trial and error she figured out which low growing plants can thrive in our area and those were featured at the spring plant sales that were a part of the Arboretum for over 30 years. Due to her connection with the Ohio Valley Rock Garden Society the Arboretum was offering plants to community members that were otherwise unavailable to the public. This made it possible for people interested in gardening, especially in small spaces, to have a little patch of garden at home.hypertufa cactus sedum planting kingwood ctr

dscf5624One of her primary achievements was to offer arboretum-propagated rock garden plants at the annual spring plant festivals. Each year, she and her crew propagated many different types of tiny alpine plants for the sale. This annual event drew thousands of eager gardeners who would get expert advice from Bolender, who oversaw this specialty plant area. She also introduced and led the first hypertufa trough garden workshops in this area, debuting this unique garden art for the community. Making hypertufas was also a way to engage more volunteers and to keep them interested in coming back, especially during the cold winter months.

Liz served on the Cox Arboretum Associate (Volunteer) Board for many years as a nominating chair and has been the Rock Garden Chair for almost as long as she has been with the Arboretum. Her leadership helped to raise critical funds for the 1979 Visitor Center and present Zorniger Education Campus.

Past Cox Arboretum Director Jay Woodhull says of Bolender, "Her dedication to the plants, places and people she surrounds herself with is inspirational. Her knowledge and valuable participation in caring for some of our smallest plants has made a great impact on the success of MetroParks in offering experiences that are meaningful and nurturing to the community and its members."