Williston gardeners show their colors

Williston in Bloom judging begins next week

July 17, 2008
By Tim Simard
Observer staff

Armand Leggett stood proudly near his small garden plot Tuesday morning at Taft Farm Senior Living Community on Cornerstone Drive in Williston. Leggett's garden has grown considerably since he began planting around the first of June, he said

Leggett's plot is chalk full of vegetable plants, including cucumbers, summer squash, green tails and tomatoes, with colorful flowers planted along the edges.

Contributed photo
Mike Jones entered his water garden, pictured above, in this year's Williston in Bloom competition.

"I've been working on it every day," Leggett said, grinning widely. "I come out here and talk to it!"

Leggett, along with several other Taft Farm community members, have planted 27 garden plots and flower gardens, competing as a group in the Williston in Bloom town beautification competition.

Melissa Kelley, property manager for Taft Farm, said the community has been involved with Williston in Bloom for a number of years. She said the community's residents enjoy the two garden areas that are set up in the spring.

"It fills up every year," Kelley said. "There's never any not taken."

Williston in Bloom began in 2002 as part of America in Bloom, a community-based beautification program that includes the competition. There are five categories residents could enter, including a vegetable garden, an annual and perennial garden, a comprehensive landscape, a water feature and a rain garden, which is a new category this year. A grand prize is also awarded to an overall garden winner.

The grand prize is a gift certificate to Gardener's Supply Company. All participants this year will receive a 10 percent off coupon to a local garden center. The registration deadline to enter was last week.

This year's judges have been chosen and will soon canvass the town, looking at the best of the best of Williston's gardens. According to Williston in Bloom member and Master Gardener June Jones, 10 residents have signed up to be judged in the competition.


Rain garden

One resident is participating in Williston in Bloom's rain garden category. Resident Rebecca Tharp has entered her garden, and is also taking part in the Rooftop to Rain — Rain Garden Contest, hosted by the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District in partnership with the University of Vermont Extension and the Lake Champlain Sea Grant.

Ashley Lidman, assistant manager at the conservation district, said traditional gardens are built raised up above the yard or in mounds. Rain gardens are the opposite, built within a depression to collect storm water, like a natural bowl.

"The idea is that water enters the garden, sits and becomes cleaner, and then slowly re-enters the ground," Lidman said. "It's better for the water quality and the environment."

Lidman said making a rain garden is easy and many plants found around residents' houses can be transferred to these natural gardens. The plants have to be able to handle very wet soils, but also prolonged periods without rain.

Lidman said nine people in Chittenden County have entered and the goal is to have at least one residence entered from all county towns. The deadline to enter the rain garden in Williston in Bloom has passed, but there is still time for the conservation district's contest, which ends on Aug. 31. A full brochure of information can be downloaded from the district's Web site, www.vacd.org/winooski/index.shtml.

Repeat competitors

Dana Partelow is participating for a second time this year, after placing second in the annual and perennial garden category last year. Partelow said gardening is a "natural stress reliever" and the contest allows her to exhibit her hard work.

"I'm one of those free spirits that likes things growing down the driveway," Partelow said, adding her garden flanks both sides of her driveway on Isham Circle.

Mike Jones and his wife, Cathy, have participated for several years, although they took last year off. Instead, Jones was a judge for last year's contest.

As a judge, Jones said he traveled to different homes looking at gardens and judging them on criteria that included visual impact, originality, multi-season use, and color and texture.

This year, Jones is entering the water garden at his home on Katie Lane, complete with a three-foot deep pond, which he has been working on for several seasons. He believes it's ready to be judged this year.

Jones credits his wife for the design and gardening work every year at their house. She starts planting certain plants inside their house in February and then transfers them to the garden when it warms up. She's the one with the real talent, he said.

"My job is to dig holes and move bushes around," Jones said with a laugh.

Awards are received in either August or September during an awards ceremony, with the date to be announced. Jones said the ceremony is a good opportunity to view other residents' gardens.

"You go to the awards benefit and get to see what everyone else has been working on," Jones said. "It gives you ideas for the following year." �