Washington in Bloom

To prepare for the America In Bloom judges who will soon arrive, Washington Town and Country Fair Queen candidates spent the day Friday, July 6, planting flowers at the Welcome to Washington sign as part of a community service project. Here Lindsy Benedict, left, and Jenna Katzung add a layer of mulch to newly planted flowers.     

Missourian Photo/Jeanne Miller Wood.

For the third year in a row, Washington will compete in America in Bloom (AIB), a national program recognizing communities for their beautification and enhancement efforts.

Washington will compete in the 12,000 to 18,000 population category against Arroyo Grande, Calif., Holliston, Mass., and Catskill, N.Y.

“I hope the judges see our city is as beautiful as we know it is,” said Sally Bocklage, AIB chair. “We’re blessed to have judges with a wealth of experience and knowledge.”

The judges will arrive Wednesday, July 10, and will spend two days touring the city.

A welcome dinner will be held Thursday, July 11, at the Washington Senior Center. The dinner will begin with a social hour where visitors will have the opportunity to meet the national judges. Dinner will be served at 6:15 p.m.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the parks department through July 8.

This year’s judges are Katy Moss Warner and Melanie Menachem-Riggs.

Tour Sites

A final schedule of where the judges will visit is still in the works, Bocklage said, but they will visit many of the same sites as last year.

Bocklage said the judges will tour the Washington Public Library, Kohlmueller House, national historic register sites, the Angel of Hope Garden, Phoenix Park, the team track, recycling center, the downtown post office, All-Abilities Park and other sites.

The Washington Wal-Mart store recently donated two trees, as well as other garden supplies, and additional plantings have been done at Phoenix Park.

“There is so much to see and so much we want to show them,” Bocklage said.

And although it is a contest, the aim is to “simply make Washington the best it can be,” Bocklage said.

“We have wonderful city workers, business owners and volunteers who spend endless hours doing good work for Washington,” she said. “The contest is just a fun aspect along the way.

“It does add to the excitement,” she said, and of course, Washington could earn some bragging rights.

“But no matter what we’re bragging. We love Washington,” Bocklage said. “We’re in it for Washington, not for the contest itself.”

Leading up to the judges visit, hanging baskets featuring red begonias, blue supertunias and dwarf sweet potato vine have been ordered and the yard of the month contest is up and running. The contest runs from June through October and the committee encourages residents to participate.

To enter, people may call the parks department, 636-390-1080.

Several other projects are in the works, but have been delayed because of the rain.

Bocklage said other projects have been outlined and have a wealth of volunteers, but no funding. Project sponsors, either businesses or individuals, are being sought for these projects.

Some of the projects include removing dead shrubs and adding 20 to 30 new shrubs and mulch at the train caboose on Front Street; adding plantings and signage by the butterfly garden near the parks office; and enlarging the Lucile Mauntel memorial flagpole garden and adding signs.

Other possibilities include adding plants to the large, concrete planters at the riverfront; cleaning up plants at the Kohmueller House; adding hibiscus plants near the Waterworks building; and additional plantings at Phoenix Park.

Bocklage said the committee also could partner with local civic organizations and clubs. All donors will be recognized at the dinner in July, as well as on the Washington in Bloom website, which is still being created.

‘Best Ideas’

The site will include information on mulching, pruning, planting, a tree guide, previous year’s evaluations and the community profile book, as well as management plans.

New this year will be a “Best Ideas” contest. Participants will be asked to write a description and include photos of Washington’s best ideas, such as Lions Lake, the riverfront, library or other ideas.

The winner will be featured in the 2014 community profile book. The contest will be launched in the next several weeks.

“Wear Your Bloomin’ Shirts” days also will be announced soon, Bocklage said. The $10 shirts are available at the Washington Parks Department.

“Our participation in the America in Bloom program is so heartwarming and reassuring because it shows us that we are doing things right,” Bocklage said. “The types of projects that we have earmarked are ones that national judges praise.”

The AIB committee includes Bocklage, Dave Wehmeyer, co-chair; Mayor Sandy Lucy; Darren Dunkle, parks director; Jill Straatmann, city of Washington; and John Steffens, Urban Forestry.

In last year’s competition Washington was named a “four bloom” community and received a special mention for its efforts in heritage preservation. It also was nominated for best fair or festival.