BLOOM TOWN: Flora enthusiasts are seeking colorful landscapes

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GREENFIELD — A lot of flower power is happening in Greenfield this summer, thanks to Greenfield in Bloom.

The local nonprofit has planted hundreds of colorful blooms in sidewalk beds, flower pots and hanging baskets throughout the downtown area, and it also recently transformed the landscape around the Hancock County prosecutor’s office.

Next month, they’ll tour the community hanging 100 placards on doors of homes that showcase colorful blooms in their front yards.

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“It’s our way of thanking people for making a difference in the community,” said Bobbi Anderson, director of Greenfield in Bloom.

Volunteers will distribute the door hangers from July 6-19, seeking out homes with not only nice landscaping but an added pop of colorful flowers. The boundaries are roughly that of Center Township, said Anderson, starting at State and Main streets and fanning out from there.

One house in each quadrant will be named a Champion Home, and will have a sign placed in its yard as part of the honor.

“We’re looking for a nice, neat yard, something that when you drive by it catches your eye. We want to see flowers and color,” said Anderson, who enjoys scoping out nice-looking yards each year.

“We used to honor a yard of the month, but we decided to switch things up and honor a yard in each quadrant this year for outstanding floral landscape,” she said.

Greenfield in Bloom dates to 2004, when a group of civic-minded people campaigned to enter the national America in Bloom contest. After the city won the national competition, the local initiative took root. While planting projects can draw in lots of volunteers, there’s a core group of people who keep the nonprofit chugging along, said Anderson, who has headed Greenfield in Bloom for three years.

“The people we have are instrumental. This core group just honestly cares so much about this group and about what they do,” said Anderson, giving special praise to Paul Norton, a Greenfield Parks employee tasked with keeping all the downtown plants and flowers watered and thriving.

In recent years, in addition to planting flowers in the downtown flower pots and hanging baskets, the group has chosen a focus project each year to help spruce up a downtown property.

Last year, they transformed the once-dreary landscape outside the Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce building, just south of the Hancock County Courthouse.

“The old landscaping would have probably been in for over 10 years and was looking pretty sad,” said chamber president Retta Livengood, who was thrilled with the outdoor makeover.

“Greenfield in Bloom came in and removed all of the old landscaping, and they had a plan for the plants that they wanted to use. Their efforts were amazing,” she said.

This year the group focused on transforming the landscape outside the Hancock County prosecutor’s office. With help from Greenfield’s parks and street departments, they tore out shrubs and added new flower boxes, flower pots and a couple of trees.

“We really appreciate the time, care and attention they gave to our office and the face lift they gave us. The landscape there hadn’t been updated in 30 years,” said prosecutor Brent Eaton.

Tim Boyk, who works for the city’s street department and also does freelance landscape design, designed the landscape outside the chamber and prosecutor’s buildings. He also designed the landscaping around Greenfield’s police and fire stations downtown, which are in close proximity to the prosecutor and chamber buildings.

Eaton is a big fan of the cohesive landscape look that ties all the buildings together.

“There’s been so much work over the years to make downtown Greenfield a welcoming and vibrant town square. The work that was done at our building this year to make the landscaping consistent with everybody else I think is a really great look for our community,” he said.

Anderson is hopeful that Greenfield in Bloom can continue to make an impact in the community for years to come, but said that more supporters and volunteers are necessary to further that mission.

Each year, the group plants flowers in 22 lamp post baskets, eight hanging baskets, 11 large concrete planters and 17 small concrete planters in downtown Greenfield, in addition to flower boxes on a bridge near Riley Park.

This year, they upgraded the soil and planted 83 flats of annuals in sidewalk beds throughout the downtown area.

“If you look at the impact all the flowers make in all the pots and hanging baskets and flower beds around town, it’s hard to imagine what downtown Greenfield would look like without it,” Anderson said.

Connie Schmidt, project manager for the Hancock Economic Development Commission, said the flowers do more than just make things look pretty. They can also have a positive impact on economic development.

When scouting out new locations, business leaders put a lot of thought into the type of community they want to move into, Schmidt said.

“There are businesses that will say it was the visit to the community that was the deciding factor for choosing a location,” she said.

“If a visitor sees well-kept yards, they get a sense for what’s known as ‘quality of place,’ a place where residents have ownership and commitment to the community.”

For information on how to get involved with Greenfield in Bloom, contact Anderson at the Greenfield Parks Department at 317-477-4340.

To donate to the organization, call the Hancock County Community Foundation at 317-462-8870.