From left: BIA Business Manager Susan Pennie and garden writer Rob Howard chat about the entries of the Waterdown Blooms competition while Ward 15 Councillor Judi Partridge, RBG Head of Horticulture Jim Mack, City of Hamilton Senior Landscape Architect Meredith Plant and Gisela Smithson from the Flamborough Horticultural Society look at the entry by Lynden Lawn Care whose plants were donated by TERRA. – Julia Lovett/Metroland
After an unpredictably wet summer, an expert panel officially judged the “Waterdown Blooms” garden beds on Thursday, Sept. 7.
Seven entries were created in an effort to help beautify the downtown core of the village. The initiative, launched six years ago by the Waterdown Business Improvement Area (BIA), this year added a little extra for local Canada 150 celebrations.
“Most of these beds have been repeat landscapers that come back year over year, so they’re really invested into the community,” said BIA business manager Susan Pennie.
Civic beautification is part of the BIA’s mandate, which comprises planters, gardens and signage. The Waterdown Blooms program takes the beautification a step further, “to try and dress up some of our boulevards and bring a little bit more life to town,” Pennie added.
The seven entries used different approaches to planning and planting their landscape or garden. Some chose to create colourful oases using flowers while others took a more peaceful tone by using materials such as rocks and shrubs to achieve a relaxing green space. The finished plots can be observed along Hamilton Street North at Melanie Court and in the Goldenview area of Dundas Street.
Entrants in this year’s competition are Gelderman Landscape Services, Let’s Landscape Together, Lynden Lawn Care in partnership with Terra Greenhouses, Meadowbrook Landscaping, the Flower Market Waterdown, the Gardener Landscaping and Wilbrink’s LAWNscaping.
Gisela Smithson of the Flamborough Horticultural Society served on the judging panel. She was looking for certain qualities in each presentation.
“First of all, weeds, cleanliness, tidy, how is it kept and then the overall impact — would somebody stop and look at it instead of just passing it by,” she said.
She remarked that the overall impressions had to be taken into account as well.
“Something like the red here, that’s eye-catching.”
Royal Botanical Gardens’ head of horticulture Jim Mack appreciated the time and effort it took in planning the design of the entries.
“I do like the variety of colours and things are pretty well-balanced,” he said.
While overall impressions were generally good, the judging panel, which also included Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge, Hamilton Spectator garden writer Rob Howard and Meredith Plant, senior landscaping architect for the City of Hamilton, took issue with the visible weeds and some stray bits of plant tags that dotted the dark mulch on one of the plots.
“It would’ve taken somebody (a) half an hour to clean it, which is a pity,” said Smithson.
Planted along busy commercial streets, the gardens were subject to various challenges. Some of the plants had been stolen earlier in the season while animals enjoyed some of the flowers. Regardless of earlier troubles, the judges were impressed by the ingenuity behind the designs, such as incorporating red and white and an abundance of Indigenous plants in the Canada 150 theme.
Plant was happy with the community’s enthusiasm for the program.
“Some of the annuals have held out pretty well through the season so that’s nice, to see the colour this time of year,” she noted.
One of the features that impressed the judges, including Howard, was how well the gardeners and landscapers understood their audience. One of the beds was raised up so as to be better seen by passing motorists.
“It makes all the difference, you know,” said Howard. “If you’ve got a flat bed, most of the traffic going by is never even going to notice.”
Pennie listened with interest to the expert opinions.
“It’s great to have an outside perspective on things that we do in town,” she said.
Now that the experts have cast their votes, local residents have the chance to cast a ballot for their favourite Waterdown Blooms garden until Sept. 14. People’s Choice ballots appeared in the Aug. 31 edition of the Review, and they can be submitted through boxes located in businesses around town, including the Copper Kettle Cafe, the Review office, Jitterbug Cafe, Symposium Cafe and the BIA office.
Winners will be announced at a later date.