Freeze foils big bloom theory

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Cole Hancock led his Boy Scout Troop 361 on a shovel brigade in the sunshine on May 11, planting the last of this year’s crabapple trees in city parks as part of his Eagle Scout project.

“It’s a big responsibility just to take on an Eagle Scout project, especially one that has such a long tradition,” he said.

Jeff Kaufman proudly watched his son, Evan, help with the big dig.

“It teaches them to give back to the community, and it teaches them that there’s more to planting a tree than just digging a hole,” he said. “And they’re helping their buddy out to get his Eagle Scout.”

The Buck Foundation joined the community effort to spruce up the trail by kicking in a $5,000 grant to Littleton Crabapple Trail Inc., the nonprofit formed by friends and family of Vaughn Gardinier to carry on his legacy. Gardinier convinced city officials to start planting the trees some 40 years ago, to give Littleton claim to something unique. He conceived of the trail in 2011, but died the next year.

His friend and former city manager Larry Borger took up the mantle, getting the nonprofit rolling and recruiting help from the city, South Suburban Parks and Recreation, O’Toole’s Gardening Center and the Boy Scouts. Today the trail is a seven-mile loop that showcases more than 400 of the 1,600 flowering crabapple trees in the city.

Borger enjoyed watching the Boy Scouts and SSPR plant dozens of flowering crabapple trees throughout the city on May 4 and May 11. Larry Hurd, SSPR’s horticulture foreman, said they will probably be the only ones to bloom this year, having missed the late freezes Mother Nature bestowed upon the state this year.

“The other ones probably won’t,” he said. “It doesn’t look good, that’s for sure.”

Hurd said the trees will probably start showing their true colors in the next two weeks, and Kelly Schiller can’t wait. She lives across the street from Ketring Park and stopped by to watch the team work.

“I think it’s fabulous,” she said. “I’m really excited that we have hope that we will have flowering trees, and more additions to the Crabapple Trail. It’s an exciting feature of our town.”

“This is the kind of cooperation that builds community strength,” said David Buck of the Buck Foundation. “We believe in efforts by Littleton’s citizens to improve their community. Decades ago, my mother, Mims, worked with other women to plant annual flowers in Littleton public spaces. My father, Douglas, was an avid gardener and each summer donated part of his extensive harvest to individuals in Littleton. Community involvement has always been a part of our family.”

Borger said the donation could not have come at a better time. SSPR had approved a matching grant to plant trees in the parks, but the district’s rules called for bigger ones than the group had planned on, he explained.

“With the desire to make a more significant impact, the Crabapple Trail board of directors decided to put more of its own community-based funds into the planting project,” he said. “That decision was made easier because of the Buck Foundation donation.”

The Buck Foundation has also supported Bemis Library, the Littleton Immigrant Resources Center and the Douglas H. Buck Recreation Center.

Donations to Littleton Crabapple Trail, Inc. are always welcome and can be sent to P.O. Box 110, Littleton, CO 80160