Where have all the flowers gone? Gone to compost, every one

To everything there is a season, and the season of Edmonds’ colorful hanging flower baskets has come to a close. The baskets have been looking increasingly tired as autumn settles in, and the once-colorful annuals take on a withered look and complete their life cycle by setting seed and dying back.

City crews have spent the past several days taking the baskets down and removing them to the maintenance area adjacent to City Park, where volunteers from Edmonds in Bloom gathered Friday morning to disassemble them, and combine the clippings and soil into what will become rich compost to nurture another generation of plants.

“It’s all part of the life cycle of our hanging baskets, and we honestly couldn’t do it without the help we get every step of the way from Edmonds in Bloom and the Floretum Garden Club,” explained City Horticulturalist Debra Dill. “It starts every February, with Edmonds in Bloom volunteers helping plant the starts in flats. After about eight weeks in the greenhouse to get established and put on some growth, Floretum volunteers pitch in to plant them in more than 150 basket liners. Then it’s back in the greenhouse to put on more growth.  When they start to flower, usually in June, city crews put the liners into the basket frames and hang them on light poles throughout downtown.”

And what about the compost from last year’s flower baskets?

“We’ll use that to help fertilize other planted areas throughout the city,” Dill said. “We find we get the best success using fresh potting soil for the new baskets we plant in spring, but the compost is a valuable resource year-round, and helps keep the plantings in our parks healthy and happy.”

Dill can’t say enough about the eager volunteers from the city’s two garden clubs, Floretum and Edmonds in Bloom. “The two clubs really complement each other,” she said.  “Over the course of the year, these two groups save what would be many weeks of work for our crews.”

Dill also pointed out the valuable role of sponsors in helping ensure the continued success of the hanging flower basket program. Sponsors can be individuals or businesses, and each is noted by a plaque on the basket itself. Many sponsors choose to designate their basket in memory of a loved one or to honor a particular person, and that information is displayed on the plaque as well.

For more information, check the Edmonds Flower Program web page at www.edmondswa.gov/parks-recreation-departments/flower-program.html.

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

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