Archive for Thursday, September 1, 2005

Flower pots offer welcome

September 1, 2005

Those involved with downtown Baldwin City have received many positive comments about the beautification process which started with the large pots of colorful flowers being planted on the corners of High Street.

Sandy Cardens, chamber of commerce office manager, and Alan Stevens, director of Kansas State University's Horticulture Research Center near Edgerton, helped plant the large pots June 3. Cardens said the pots make the downtown look better to visitors.

"It makes downtown look welcoming to people," Cardens said. "People like to see something besides a dead corner. The idea is to make downtown more welcoming. It's the same as putting flowers in front of your house. It's like being in a house painted like you like it or in a house that's just raw."

Sally Nixon, co-chair of the Downtown Beautification Committee, agreed the pots are more welcoming to visitors.

"It makes me think people care and that when visitors come in they'll think people care," Nixon said. "They'll want to come in and think we're happy here."

Nixon began noticing more businesses opening up in the downtown area and wanted to beautify downtown Baldwin.

"As more retail has come in the city and buildings became occupied, we wanted to jazz it up a bit," Nixon said.

The idea for the flower pots came when Nixon met Stevens and began discussing ways to improve the downtown area.

"I met Sally Nixon in the coffee shop downtown," said Stevens, who lives just outside of town. "She started asking about ideas on how to improve the look downtown. She introduced me to Sandy Cardens and the three of us put our heads together and came up with some ideas."

A committee was then formed to help beautify the area. Stevens was a major contributor to the committee, because of his knowledge of plants.

Stevens had been running experiments on how to keep flowers growing in the midwest states, where the weather is hot, dry, windy and changes often. Some of the flowers used in the experiments are planted in the downtown's pots.

"He has provided them free of charge, because they are sort of test subjects," Cardens said. "He provided the potting mixture, which is not potting soil. He told us how to plant them and what to put in."

Stevens said he likes being able to look at the flowers downtown.

"It's something to see when I drive through town everyday," Stevens said. "I think we all need to give something to the community we live in. I enjoy seeing the flowers I have donated."

The pots were filled with various flowers and a potting mixture provided by Stevens. The large pots are filled with canna lilies (red and orange tall flowers), ornamental sweet potatoes (lime green vines) and petunias (purple flowers).

Even though the chamber is responsible for the flowers, Cardens credits Stevens for the beautification in Baldwin.

"The chamber of commerce does the flower pots, but we have to give practically all of the credit to Alan Stevens," Cardens said. "He has been testing flowers for everything we have here. He's a really bright guy and very generous."

However, Stevens give the credit to the caretakers, because he said he only planted the flowers.

Cardens said the late Dr. Irene Murphy donated money to Baldwin City for improving the looks of the town.

"She left money to the city to be used for beautification," Cardens said. "We used that donation to purchase the big concrete planters."

The chamber of commerce is in charge on the project.

"We have Coal Creek Lawn and Garden Service doing the maintenance and Fadra Mitchell has been down here faithfully watering them or they wouldn't be alive," Cardens said. "But the chamber of commerce has sponsored the whole thing."

Stevens has also planted many small flower pots that are located in front of several businesses in downtown Baldwin. Nixon said many people have loved the flowers.

"This year everybody has thought they are wonderful," Nixon said. "Alan had added the little pots to this corner on his own."

Cardens has received comments from different areas around Northeast Kansas.

"I am really amazed at how many people have stopped and said something," Cardens said. "I've had people call me from Lawrence. I had the Leavenworth Master Gardeners ask me what we were feeding them. They were terribly impressed."

The flowers will try and last until the Maple Leaf Festival in October, but Nixon said they will have to plant new ones after that.

"If we had the money, they should be replanted probably three times a year," Nixon said. "We try to squeeze this through Maple Leaf and then do something for the fall and winter."

Stevens believes flowers should be everywhere to give the world some color.

"I think more people should plant more flowers in more places, to make the world a more colorful place," Stevens said.

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