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Let's win this bloomin' thing!

A committee hopes downtown flowers will help the community win a national contest. A committee hopes downtown flowers will help the community win a national contest.

Volunteer gardeners are getting ready to dig, plant, water and weed ahead of Henderson County's effort to be named one of America's prettiest communities.


A local committee is working to identify the best areas to showcase and is assembling a 25-page book in hopes of impressing judges enough to be named a national winner in the America in Bloom competition.
"We're going to be judged on six criteria," said Mia Freeman, a downtown antique shop owner and chair of the local America In Bloom committee. "Right now we're working on a profile book of the things we're going to be judged on. They're going to go through and give us their recommendations on what we can improve. They're big on volunteering in the community, youth involvement, landscaping, trees, the whole beautification and the environment. Personally I really feel like we're really way ahead of the game."
The judging is based on overall impression, heritage preservation, landscaping, environmental efforts, urban forestry and floral displays. Based in Columbus, Ohio, America in Bloom says it is the only program of its kind to provide communities on-site, one-on-one mentoring and coaching by expert judges.
The Village of Flat Rock is expected to feature the Flat Rock Playhouse grounds and its new quilt block, the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, Little Rainbow Row, the Village Hall grounds, St. John in the Wilderness and the new Park at Flat Rock.
In Hendersonville the committee will show the judges Main Street with its planters of blooming flowers and hanging baskets. By then the city will have added hanging baskets on Seventh Avenue, part of its new focus on revitalization. The committee also wants the judges to see Bullington Gardens, Jackson Park, Fletcher Community Park, Mills River Town Park and Patton Park.
"We'll be sprucing up some of our entrance ways," said Hendersonville City Manager John Connet. A side benefit is that through the visiting judges "we'll get that outsiders' view, which we can use to plan future projects and to improve what we've done."
Between now and the visit, Freeman and the committee plan to identify local neighborhoods and homes with the prettiest yards.
"That's one of the things they look at is residential," Freeman said. "We're working on a 25-page book. Once we do this profile book this year we can resubmit it each year if we need to make small improvements."
If Henderson County wins, "we would be nationally recognized, which would be a good thing for travel and tourism," Freeman said. "I think we would get a plaque and then they have a ceremony and we'd be recognized there. And we'd be flashed all around as one of the places to come visit."
Freeman said Land O' Sky Garden Club member Carol Elliot has been the inspiration for the event. Elliot serves on the committee. Other committee members are Agriculture Extension Director Marvin Owings Jr., extension agent Kerry Roach, Hendersonville Mayor Barbara Volk, Tourism Development Authority Director Beth Carden, Wendy Beville and Bonnie See.