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County wins 5-bloom rating for gardens, beautification

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Henderson County's fourth effort to show off its gardens, landscaping, environmentalism and volunteerism has paid off with top honors.

The county received a 5-bloom rating out of a possible five blooms and special recognition for its Environmental Efforts during the 2017 America in Bloom National Awards Program in Holliston, Mass., on Oct. 7. Henderson County also received a special award for “Best Example of Water-Wise Gardening.”

American in Bloom judges Ed Hooker and Leslie Pittenger, AIB judges, visited communities of similar populations and spent two days touring each town, meeting municipal officials, residents, and volunteers. Other competitors in the 25,000-50,000 population category were Mansfield, OH; Saratoga, CA; and St. Charles, IL.

Henderson County, Hendersonville, Laurel Park, Mills River and Flat Rock participated in the local America In Bloom effort, which  gardeners first organized in 2014.

Last year Henderson County scored four out of five blooms and its newly dedicated veterans-honoring painting on North King Street won a special award for Most Striking Public Wall Mural. This was the first year the county won five blooms.

Communities were evaluated on six criteia: overall impression, environmental awareness, heritage preservation, urban forestry, landscaped areas, and floral displays. Additionally, they were judged on their community involvement across municipal, residential, and commercial sectors. America in Bloom is the only national awards program that sends specially trained judges to personally visit participants. In addition, each participant receives a detailed written evaluation that can be used as a guide to future improvements.

“America in Bloom is helping towns and cities of all sizes achieve their potential," America in Bloom Executive Director Laura Kunkle said. "Every year our participants raise the bar, and the accomplishments and progress shown by this year's group is again remarkable. These are, without a doubt, some of the best places to live in America.”

To date, more than 250 communities from 45 states have participated in the program and more than 22 million people have been touched by it. Registrations for the 2018 national awards program can be submitted until February 28, 2019. Eligible participants include towns, cities, college and university campuses, business districts, military installations, and recognized neighborhoods of large cities.