America in Bloom judges will tour Washington Monday and Tuesday, July 16-17.
The program promotes nationwide beautification through education and community involvement by encouraging the use of flowers, plants, trees and other environmental and lifestyle enhancements.
This is Washington’s second entry in the America in Bloom national awards program.
This year’s judges are Evelyn Alemanni and Barbara Vincentsen.
Alemanni is from Elfin Forest, Calif., and has judged for America in Bloom since 2003.
By the end of 2012, she will have judged 97 towns in six countries. Her award-winning gardens have been featured in several national publications.
Alemanni is the author of America in Bloom’s “Ten Years of Best Ideas” book which highlights best practices of America in Bloom participating towns. As a member of the AIB Board of Directors, she chairs the AIB External Relations Committee.
“It is rare for an AIB judge to visit a town in two consecutive years. I had the privilege of judging Washington in 2011 and can’t wait to make a return visit,” Alemanni said. “America in Bloom is the only awards program of its kind that sends trained judges for onsite visits, mentoring and coaching.”
Vincentsen is owner of Vincentsen Associates, an architectural firm in Westfield, N.J.
She grew up in a gardening family and has continued her family tradition in her own gardens, which have plantings shared from three generations of close family and friends.
Her Westfield garden was featured in the 2010 America in Bloom program in Westfield.
“Washington, Mo.’s website has provided a taste of the town and a sense of the community involvement which was specially noted at last year’s America In Bloom symposium,” Vincentsen said.
“I look forward to personally seeing and experiencing (the) town,” she said. “The ongoing ‘Yard of the Month’ competition promises to be most interesting.”
The judges spend two days in each town and do extensive touring, conduct interviews with municipal representatives, and meet with community volunteers.
Six criteria are evaluated including overall impression, environmental efforts, heritage preservation, urban forestry, landscapes and floral displays.
The criteria are examined across four sectors including commercial, municipal, residential, and community involvement.
The judges will prepare an extensive written evaluation offering observations of exceptional practices and suggestions for improvements.
The evaluation is given to the community after awards are announced in September.
Participants have opportunities to receive recognition in bloom rating, population category winner, a criteria award or the “best of the best” in all population categories in each of the six evaluated criteria, or a special mention for what the judges deem to be an extraordinary project or program.
Population category winners are invited to participate in international competition via the Communities in Bloom program in Canada.
To date, 200 towns and cities from 41 states have participated in the program and more than 20 million people have been touched by it.
Awards will be announced on Sept. 22 at AIB’s National Symposium and Awards, held this year in Fayetteville, Ark.
Sally Bocklage, co-chair of the Washington in Bloom program, reminds residents that judges will notice things such as grass growing in cracks along the sidewalk or any unkept areas.
To prepare for the judges, a total of 25 pots have been arranged with red and white flowers grown by the Washington High School FFA students.
The pots are available to businesses in the Downtown Washington for $25. Plants can be reserved by calling Angie at Hillermann’s landscape department, 636-239-6729.
Pots will be delivered the first week of July.
Residents can vote for a city tree, bird and flower through July 9. The symbols will be announced before the judges visit.
Choices for trees include dogwood, river birch, redbud, red maple and bald cypress.
Bird candidates are the cardinal, bluebird, robin, gold finch and hummingbird.
Flower choices include the knockout rose, daylily, black-eyed Susan, red hibiscus and purple cone flower.
Choices can be mailed to Washington in Bloom, P.O. Box 59, Washington, MO 63090; emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or submitted online by visiting the Washington Parks Department website, ci.washington.mo.us, and clicking the “America & Washington in Bloom” link on the left side of the page.
Planning for a farewell picnic for the judges is under way. The picnic will be held Tuesday, July 17.
Residents will have the opportunity to meet and thank judges before they move on to another city.
More information and tickets for this event will be released in the coming weeks.