Woman makes Bijou beautiful | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Woman makes Bijou beautiful

Mary Thompson

It was an ordinary plot of dirt and pine needles along the promenade leading to Bijou Community Park, but Thelma Martin, a South Shore resident since 1956, set out to turn it into a paradise.

In a four-year project that was completed less than two weeks ago, Martin provided the funding to transform the barren parcel into a landscaped memorial garden dedicated to her deceased husband Gerald E. Martin – who served on the first city council and as the second mayor of the city of South Lake Tahoe.

His memory was her motivation.

“When Jerry passed away, he received a tree as a gift from some city employees and I felt it needed to go on city property,” she said at the memorial dedication held Sunday at the park. “I think he would have liked this very much.”

Though sprouted from the idea of a lone tree, the project has evolved into something much larger.

Project coordinator Bill Ledbetter said they hired a landscape architect and landscape contractor to design and install the arrangement of the memorial plaque, three flagpoles, a grassy lawn, granite bench and walkway and a variety of exotic and native foliage.

“All of the granite in the walkway comes from India,” he said. “And the spruce trees are from Colorado.”

Ledbetter couldn’t put an exact figure on the total cost of the memorial garden but estimated it to be in excess of $40,000.

Despite the sizable chunk of cash already sunk into the garden, Martin said her work at the park is not complete.

She said she is planning a project to develop the area directly behind the Gerald E. Martin Memorial Garden, which sits on an island dividing the parking lot area.

“I think it will take us about five years to finish that,” she said.

In the meantime, Ledbetter said Martin has set aside some funding to replace plants that don’t survive and that the city of South Lake Tahoe will provide other maintenance work to the grounds.

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