The Communities in Bloom judges were in Vernon recently and they liked what they saw.
“I was here two years ago and I’m amazed at how much has been done in that time. You get the idea,” said Peter Crawshaw, a B.C. Communities in Bloom director and judge who is City of Parksville parks and facilities superintendent.
“This is something I really enjoy. You meet such interesting people and see so many innovative projects. We’re always learning things and if we can pass along small bits of wisdom, we are happy to do so.”
Crawshaw is well qualified to be a judge.
“My wife and I are just garden fanatics. We love to grow things, always pushing the envelope as far as zones go. I’d say one of the most exotic things we’ve grown is the cardiocrinum giganteum, the giant lily, which grows in the southern hemisphere. It takes seven years from seed to flower and it grows nine feet tall in the last season.”
The judges visit a number of local sites, including parks and other public areas, businesses, community gardens and some local private gardens. They also note how well individual neighbourhood gardens are kept.
“Everyone is a part of keeping up a beautiful city. You can see that people here care for their city,” said Crawshaw. “We are particularly impressed with what is being done with Polson Park and future plans for the park. We happened to meet a young student who was involved with planting trees and we were very happy to see young people who are environmentally aware.”
He was also impressed with the trail system in the area.
“Someone with vision has worked there. You have people with vision and a desire to see that vision transposed to reality. You can’t give enough praise to the Communities in Bloom Committee here. Being a judge is a lot of work but it’s very rewarding.”
The judges consider community involvement, general tidiness of the city, landscaping, urban forestry, respect for heritage, environmental impact, and the commercial and residential areas as a whole.
Communities in Bloom director and judge Karri Loadman, a Kamloops community planner, was also on the tour which was also judging Lake Country and Kelowna.
“I’m very impressed with the community-building aspect. We visited an apartment complex that had a community garden growing food and flowers. We could see how it brought people together,” she said.
“We are going to see the other community gardens and learn more about food initiative policies here. We went to the Farmers Market which was excellent and bought some things there.”
Buffy Baumbrough, chairman of the local Communities in Bloom Committee, which hosted the judges, said, “We are pleased to have them here so we can show off our community.”
The provincial Communities in Bloom project started in 1997. There are about 20 entries from around the province in Communities in Bloom this year. The winners, which can go on to take part in Canadian Communities in Bloom, will be announced in September.