America in Bloom co-chair Sally Bocklage hugged Dave Wehmeyer, co-chair, after telling the Washington in Bloom Committee how the city fared in the national competition. The national symposium, where results were revealed, was held Sept. 19-21 in Orlando, Fla. Washington was designated a five-bloom community, the highest honor, and received a criteria award for urban forestry. Washington was the only community in the nation to receive the urban forestry award. Also shown are Sylvia Czeschin, right, and Carolyn Gildehaus, WIB volunteers. Missourian Photo.

For the city of Washington, the third time proved to be a charm with the national America in Bloom (AIB) contest.

Sally Bocklage, Washington in Bloom co-chair, announced Monday that the city earned a five-bloom rating — the highest rating possible.

In 2011, the city earned a three-bloom rating. In 2012, competition organizers restructured the bloom process and told city representatives not to be surprised if their rating went down, however, Washington was named a four-bloom community.

In addition to receiving the highest rating, the city was recognized with a category award for urban forestry. Only one city in the nation receives a category award for each of the six categories: floral displays, landscaped areas, urban forestry, environmental efforts, heritage preservation and overall impression.

Awards were presented at a national symposium Sept. 19-21, in Orlando, Fla.

Organizers said Washington has a lot to be proud of.

The judges’ report is based on efforts in management, planning, maintenance, improvement and innovation.

“Each and every one of you has your trowel print in this,” Bocklage told the group of committee members, sponsors and volunteers gathered at city hall Monday morning.

Bocklage praised the AIB program during the short presentation and said that the national competition gives the city structure and guidance from experienced judges who take an outside look at the city.

“Learning, growing and working with the people in your community toward a common goal of community betterment and improvement is fabulous. It is heartwarming and reassuring,” she said. “But doing those same things under the careful guidance and support of America in Bloom is really over the top.”

Bocklage said the committee will reflect on the results and judges’ comments many times throughout the year.

Point Breakdown

Washington earned 868.5 points of a possible 1,000 total points.

The breakdown is as follows:

Floral displays, 150 points of 175 possible points;

Landscaped areas, 149 points of 175 possible;

Urban forestry, 156.5 points of 175 possible;

Environmental efforts, 145 points of 175 possible;

Heritage preservation, 159 points of 175 possible; and

Overall impression, 109 points of 125 possible.

In the evaluation form comments, judges praised many of Washington’s parks and gardens, including Krog Park, Mercy Hospital Healing Garden, the Washington Public Library landscape and children’s garden, Lafayette Park, the Angel of Hope garden, the garden at Water Tower Park, Phoenix Park and others.

Other Nominations,


Although he didn’t come home with the award, Dave Wehmeyer was one of 11 in the nation nominated by the judges for the community champion award.

Wehmeyer said that of the 11 nominees, the person who won has worked for 13 years on a single project.

Judges also took special note of the tree guide in Washington, calling it a “superlative document.”

“This is one of the best tree guides we’ve seen for a city,” the evaluation form says.

Washington also was nominated for best Arbor Day celebration and best historic restoration project for the Downtown Washington post office.

People who have ideas for the Washington in Bloom committee can email

The judges’ evaluation will be on the Washington in Bloom website in the coming weeks. A link can be found on the city’s website —, under “America and Washington in Bloom.”

Best Ideas Contest

The Washington in Bloom steering committee is hosting a “Best Idea Contest” now through Oct. 31.

Entries should be 500 words or less describing the best idea or best practice implemented in Washington. Photos in PDF format that will enhance the text are suggested.

A sample entry is on the new AIB website, listed above.

Entries should be e-mailed to

The winning entry will appear in the 2014 Community Profile Book and will receive a $100 Downtown Washington Gift Certificate.

The winner will be announced by Nov. 15, 2013.