America in Bloom to judge town for national awards
by Carrie C. Causey
WAKE FOREST — From the daffodils planted by the Wake Forest Garden Club to the landscaped Heritage neighborhood and the town’s Arbor Day celebrations, judges will be considering it all.
Monday and Tuesday, two panelists will tour the area to see how Wake Forest promotes beautification while preserving its history as part of the America In Bloom program.
The national nonprofit organization judges applicants for national awards focusing on education, community involvement and lifestyle enhancements through the environment.
America in Bloom member Jack Clasen approached Graham Johnson Cultural Arts Endowment (GJCAE) co-organizer Bob Johnson about participating in the program. GJCAE will help fund the application fees.
According to the America in Bloom website, judges are looking to see what participants are doing to “plant pride” in America. Entrants receive a bloom rating from one to five based on their score, plus they can be considered in six national best of the best awards for floral displays, landscaped areas, urban forestry, community involvement, environmental efforts, heritage preservation and overall impression, among other championship awards.
Johnson formed a committee, which has been preparing for Monday’s visit to prove Wake Forest qualifies for the honor.
Joining the effort are members of the Wake Forest Garden Club, Heritage Garden Club, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest Historical Museum, the greenways board, Wake Forest ARTS, Franklin Academy, Heritage High School Future Farmers of America, Wake Forest HerbFest, The Cotton Company and GJCAE.
Judges Clasen and Jim Sutton were chosen to tour and rate Wake Forest next week. They will be brought into downtown by pedicab for an introduction by Jan Ammons about what they will see over their two-day visit, plus hear a presentation by engineer Holly Miller about the LEED green certification of the town hall building.
Johnson hopes residents will take the time to straighten their yards this weekend, plus offer the judges a welcome reception at town hall Monday around 10 a.m.
“The more folks to say hello then the better the impression that we all work together in this community to help each other,” Johnson said to his committee members. “It will only help all the shareholders of Wake Forest.”
To prepare for the visit, the committee drafted a community profile for the judges, bound with rosemary.
Rosemary, the herb of remembrance, is to signify that the Wake Forest community remembers its past, preserves its natural beauty and enhances residents’ lifestyles.
Examples of such are evident through the 561 acres of parks, open space and natural land throughout town, the attention to detail of the flower beds at Flaherty Park, E. Carroll Joyner Park, Taylor Street, roundabouts in downtown and along the Dr. Calvin Jones Highway.
The town has an urban forestry program which runs the annual Arbor Day ceremonies, hosts the Great Grass Giveaway and the tree seedling giveaway, and awards green medals to clubs, businesses and individuals who have done their part to beautify the town. But Johnson hopes the judges will see how the residents have also done their part to preserve the aesthetic and bridge the past and the present.
Residents, including members of the Wake Forest Garden Club and Wake Forest Woman’s Club, who have kept up the Wake Forest Historical Museum grounds and the Susie Powell Gardens, planted the daffodils and other greenery on the North Main Street median. The seminary has worked to keep the campus, which dates back to the establishment of the town, looking its best. Plus there are initiatives like HerbFest, garden tours and the former East End community garden to keep the community engaged.
There are also initiatives to build more greenways, save streams, recycle and other environmental programs.
After the judging, awards will be announced Sept. 19-21 at the America in Bloom Symposium and Awards in Orlando, Fla.