FLOWER POWER: Many hands make light work of downtown planting project

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Paul Norton directs the troops before they head out for the Downtown Day of Planting in Greenfield Wednesday afternoon. About 30 people turned out to plant more than 1,000 flowers in downtown planters and flower beds.

Shelley Swift | Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD — Downtown Greenfield got a big dose of flower power on Wednesday when roughly 30 volunteers gathered to plant colorful flowers in planters and streetscape beds throughout town.

The annual Downtown Day of Planting is coordinated by Paul Norton, the Greenfield Parks employee commonly known as “the flower guy.”

Each weekday, Norton can be found watering and pruning the hundreds of flowers downtown throughout the spring and summer months.

On Wednesday, the former military man directed his troops to fan out throughout the downtown area — each with a diagram of how the flowers were to be laid out in each zone.

The group worked diligently under sunny blue skies to complete the task — planting an estimated 1,000 flowers in the flower beds and planters throughout the downtown, including around the Hancock County Courthouse and Greenfield City Hall.

In just over an hour, they had planted wave petunias, begonias, fountain grasses and sweet potato vines, transforming the downtown into a tapestry of color in shades of pink, lavender and royal blue.

“This is what the power of a lot of people doing small things together can do,” said Norton, as the work crews fanned out to start work around 1 p.m.

More than a dozen downtown business owners showed up to volunteer, with work gloves and garden spades in hand.

“Who doesn’t love flowers,” said Maria Dawson, owner of the Bradley Hall Ballroom & Events Venue at the corner of State and Main streets.

Dawson said she was happy to spend an hour or two helping to beautify the commercial district that’s known for its historic charm.

The colorful display of flowers downtown “makes our city look beautiful, and it shows that business owners care about the beautification of our city,” she said.

Libby Wyatt, owner of Libby’s Ice Cream shop in downtown Greenfield, also came out to help put some plants in the ground on Wednesday.

Wyatt, who also owns Libby’s Ice Cream & Gifts in downtown Fortville, said she loves supporting the two downtown historic districts however she can.

“I love community. That’s why we came here, because it reminded me of my childhood,” she said of the small-town vibe. “We’ve been so supported by the community since opening the shop in Greenfield, that that we just want to give back,” she said.

She and the other 30 or so volunteers were blessed with blue skies and sunshine Wednesday afternoon when they spent about 90 minutes working in teams canvassed throughout the area. Master Gardeners were paired with more novice volunteers to complete the task.

One such gardener, Rosemary Hill, came out for the second year in a row, despite having moved to Spiceland in the past year.

“I still come here to see my family, and I wanted to help make the downtown look nice,” she said. “It always looks so beautiful when we’re done. The flowers make people really take notice when they drive through town.”

With the flowers planted, Norton said the next step was making sure they stay vibrant and beautiful throughout the hot summer months.

While he’ll tend to the daily watering, he’s encouraging downtown business owners to adopt a flower bed or hanging planter near their storefronts to help maintain throughout the season.

“If several people can help keep the beds weeded and free of litter and debris, it goes a long way in keeping the whole downtown looking good,” he said.

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