Edmonds Floretum Garden Club named the 2015 ‘Edmonds Citizen of the Year’

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Floretum members gather on Tuesday morning to put more than 1000 plants into the beds at Hazel Miller Plaza.
Floretum members gather on Tuesday morning to put more than 1000 plants into the beds at Hazel Miller Plaza.

For the first time since the award’s inception, the Edmonds Kiwanis Club has bestowed its Citizen of the Year honor on a group rather than an individual, announcing on Monday that it has selected the Edmonds Floretum Garden Club as Citizen of the Year for 2015.

“I’m so thrilled,” said Floretum Club president Patti Greene. “This is such an honor for the club.”

A member since 2008, Greene is more than a little taken aback by the recognition. “When I first joined, Floretum was like my secret garden club,” she said. “It feels so good to have our work recognized in this way.”

This year's Floretum plant sale generated more than $3,100 earmarked for college scholarships to help local horticultural students.  Floretum members grow and propagate plants all year for the sale.
This year’s Floretum plant sale generated more than $3,100 earmarked for college scholarships to help local horticultural students. Floretum members grow and propagate plants all year for the sale.

“We had a number of great candidates this year and the choice was challenging,” said Edmonds Kiwanis President Juliana Van Buskirk. “But Floretum’s many years of strong support to our community put them over the top for this honor.”

Kiwanian John Rutter was on the selection committee. “We felt it would be impossible to find a more stellar example of community commitment,” he said. “And even more impressive is that it’s not just a one-time thing. Floretum has maintained an overwhelming level of service to Edmonds for many, many years.”

Many years indeed!

Founded in 1922, Floretum began with a simple idea: to promote beautification of the City of Edmonds through flowers, plantings and horticulture. Over the years this mission has grown to include fostering educational opportunities, promoting knowledge of horticulture and the art of floral and landscape design, protecting wildlife, and sharing the love, beauty and joy of gardening with all in the community.

And this year is no exception.

A sampling of Floretum plantings at Hazel Miller Plaza Tuesday.
A sampling of Floretum plantings at Hazel Miller Plaza Tuesday.

With the spring planting season in full swing, scores of Floretum club volunteers are busily filling the corner gardens at downtown intersections and the planters at Hazel Miller Plaza with more than 5,600 individual plants. But you have to look fast to catch them in the act. Many hands make the task go quickly, and these volunteers descend on the work site like a swarm of locusts. But unlike locusts, Floretum volunteers leave behind a lush garden, and they are unbeatable at getting the job done.

“It would take our staff a full day to plant the four corners of a downtown intersection,” said Debra Dill, City of Edmonds horticulturalist. “But this army of Floretum volunteers gets the job done in less than three hours.”

Floretum Club volunteers also show up at city greenhouses to prepare the hanging baskets that grace downtown Edmonds streets each year. According Dill, this year 20 Floretum volunteers arrived at the City greenhouses one morning to help plant hanging baskets. After only an hour and a half of blazing trowels and flying soil, the group had planted an incredible 148 baskets with 1,216 plants.

And it’s more than just beautifying the community with seasonal plantings. Floretum’s service to the community goes on all year long.

The club holds regular educational workshops throughout the year on horticulture, landscaping and environmental protection, and special youth workshops on topics ranging from insect pests to plant propagation. At the club’s annual plant sale, members sell plants they’ve grown and propagated in their own gardens, with all the proceeds going to a scholarship fund to benefit horticultural students. This year’s sale, held on May 2, raised more than $3,100. And even in the cold, rainy months Floretum is on the job keeping the community green and beautiful by maintaining the indoor plants at the Edmonds Public Library.

More subtle but no less meaningful, Floretum has become a strong thread in the fabric of the Edmonds community and its families. George Murray’s wife Linda has been a Floretum member since 2007, and through her he’s become a major supporter and cheerleader for the club. “For me personally, I’ve experienced how Floretum works for Edmonds, ” he said. “And it’s not just words. The members are down on their hands and knees on street corners in the rain planting flowers for spring. They participate in the Fourth of July parade, encouraging people to beautify. All year they plant to prepare for the May flower sale. They work hard for Edmonds, and do it for free. And we all benefit every time we look up and see this work reflected in the loveliness of our town.”

Floretum will be officially recognized as Edmonds Citizen of the Year at the upcoming May 28 Chamber Luncheon at the Edmonds Yacht Club. Those wanting to attend the chamber lunch can reserve tickets here. Learn more about the Edmonds Floretum Garden Club at www.edmondsfloretumgardenclub.org.

 — Story and photos by Larry Vogel

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