GREENFIELD — To city employees, he’s Paul Norton, master gardener and part-time seasonal helper.
To the business owners and motorists in downtown Greenfield, he’s the flower guy — the one out most mornings with a pickup truck and water tank, tending to hanging baskets and concrete planters in a two-block radius around the Hancock County Courthouse.
People often roll their windows down or stop him while he’s tending to the downtown foliage, planted this year in blue, gold and white colors in an effort to coincide with Indiana’s bicentennial celebration. These commuters all say the same thing, Norton said — “The flowers look great!”
Ellen Kuker, Greenfield Parks and Recreation superintendent, can attest to the volume of compliments Norton’s blossoms have received.
“I’ve heard compliments as well from people who know he takes a lot of pride in working here,” she said. “He takes a lot of pride in how downtown Greenfield looks.”
There’s something soothing about caring for the plants, said Norton, a career airman.
Norton was in the U.S. Air Force for 38 years and still donates his time to local color guards and honor guards, he said.
A few years ago, the Greenfield resident earned his master gardener designation from the Purdue Extension. To become a master gardener, applicants learn a variety of horticultural skills and techniques, which Norton said has helped him to know what the plants need to flourish.
His skill with keeping the plants perky is evident, said Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell.
“He does a great job keeping the downtown looking spiffy,” he said. “It always looks outstanding. He really has been an asset to keeping the city looking beautiful.”
The secret to keeping the downtown plants, which include daisies, hanging sweet potato vines and more, looking their best, is pretty simple, he said — water most planters every other day and fertilize everything twice a week. The hanging planters require a bit more watering.
“I consider myself their advocate,” Norton said about the flourishing annuals and perennials. “They can’t talk, but I can still tell what they’re saying.”