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CVB honors volunteer gardeners

By Sue Sitter - | Dec 19, 2020

Sue Sitter/PCT Rugby Chamber of Commerce/CVB Executive Director Laurie Odden, left, poses with her mother, Angie Busch, center, and Diane Dufner. Dufner and Busch received recognition for their work on flowerbeds and shrubs near the Northern Lights Tower.

Although frost covered the shrubs and dormant flowerbeds at the Northern Lights Tower, Diane Dufner and Angie Busch happily talked gardening when they received recognition for their work on the area Dec. 11 at the Rugby Chamber of Commerce office.

Dufner has made the flowerbeds surrounding the Rugby Convention and Visitors Bureau information kiosk and Northern Lights Tower near the entrance of the Prairie Village Museum a personal project for many years.

“It’s been awhile,” Dufner said, referring to the number of years she’s maintained the flowerbeds and shrubs on the grounds. Dufner said she began her volunteer gardening work about 15 years ago, when CVB Director Dondi Sobolik asked her if she’d be interested in it after she took a summer job with the chamber and CVB.

Dufner said she’s always loved gardening. “I’ve been doing it since I was a little girl,” she said.

The flowerbeds and shrubs had been planted near the Northern Lights Tower years ago as “an adopt-a-plot type of plan,” Dufner said. “They were planted with grant money, I believe.”

“Over time, things changed and each year, people said, ‘Do you want to take this plot?’ and they gave them to me,” Dufner said. Soon, she found herself with all the plots on the museum grounds.

When Laurie Odden took the helm as chamber and CVB executive director, she saw Dufner needed help.

“I didn’t know what to do – how do you trim these bushes, how do you get things going?” Odden said.

“Some of the shrubs were overgrown,” Dufner recalled.

Odden enlisted the help of someone she knew with a green thumb – her mom, Busch.

“Laurie called me early this spring and said, ‘Mom, I don’t know what to do about (the plants),'” Busch recounted.

“I just helped,” Busch said modestly.

“You didn’t just help,” Dufner countered. “You made decisions.”

“Well, I made decisions when I had to, but you knew what you’d done in the past and what we should or shouldn’t change and what we should do,” Busch said.

“We base what we plant on our past experience and we plant something colorful and easy to care for,” Dufner said. “We’re really grateful for the water – automatic sprinklers,” she added with a slight laugh.

Dufner said she was grateful to have help to keep the gardens well maintained this year.

“We love seeing the flowers on TV,” Busch said. The tower and gardens stand out in aerial weather cam shots of Rugby on summer mornings.

“There were a lot of compliments about how nice the area looks,” Odden said. “We had a lot more people who came to the picnic area this year and they said, ‘We didn’t realize how beautiful this area was.’ And it’s beautiful because of these two gals.”

Odden said the gardeners and chamber/CVB office would welcome more help.

“Anyone wants to volunteer, they can give the chamber office a call at 776-5846,” Odden added. ” I love volunteers.”­­

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