Bloomin’ Blowing Rock running hard, together

Bloomin’ Blowing Rock running hard, together
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Left to right, Marilyn Green, Sue Sweet and Annie Tarbutton have some laughs in telling about how the Garden Club-led America In Bloom project came about.

By David Rogers. July 18, 2018. BLOWING ROCK, NC — If the Blowing Rock Garden Club ever thinks about changing the name of the organization, they should consider “Matchmaker.”

COVER IMAGE: Judges Stephen Pategas (left) and Laurie Potier-Brown (center) join Blowing Rock Garden Club member and America in Bloom chairperson Sue Sweet in checking out some local color. Photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News

Gathering and coordinating the talents and energies of a dozen or so mostly volunteer organizations and marshaling them to work for a common cause is yeoman’s work, but the 80-something members of the Garden Club were spectacular in pulling it off on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of this week as Blowing Rock was “judged” for “America In Bloom” (AIB).

Everything was picture perfect in the American Legion Building before the volunteer dinner got fully underway.

AIB is a national competition aimed at improving the quality of life across the nation. Not only does it feature an awards program, but the recognition aspect is reinforced by multiple educational features. Although not necessarily obvious to many people, the program has a “side effect” in a participating village, town or city of promoting understanding and appreciation of all the various contributors to a community.

For Blowing Rock’s three-day, whirlwind tour by AIB judges Stephen Pategas and Laurie Potier-Brown, Tuesday evening’s Garden Club volunteer dinner was masterful in its execution.  The Garden Club hosted the event — and you could definitely see the garden influence in the immaculate table settings — but the organizers recruited the Blowing Rock Women’s Club to prepare and deliver the food.

Loy Miller represented St. Mary of the Hills Church and its Tour of Homes.

Jewel and Bill Magee (and friends whose names we failed to catch) anchored the entertainment by playing a collection of mountain favorite on a quartet of dulcimers and other string instruments.

The program featured a few comments from the judges, but they got to learn even more about Blowing Rock as the various organizations’ representatives provided highlights about their activities. The representatives and their organizations included:

  • Annie Tarbutton, Blowing Rock Garden Club
  • Kenneth Wehrmann, The Rotary Club of Blowing Rock
  • Charles Hardin, Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce
  • Kathy Earley, Blowing Rock Women’s Club
  • Susie Green, Blowing Rock Historical Society
  • Jim Clabough, The Village Foundation of Blowing Rock
  • Bob & Kathy Whatley, Community Club
  • Susie Green, Blowing Rock Community Foundation
  • Loy McGill, St. Mary of the Hills’ Tour of Homes
  • Jim Clabough, Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show
  • Tim Harris, Blowing Rock CARES
  • Melissa Pickett, Blowing Rock Appearance Advisory Commission
  • Gail Grill, Bucket Brigade
  • Lee Carol Giduz, Blowing Rock Art & History Museum
  • Mayor Charlie Sellers welcomed everyone and thanked all that contributed to the town’s efforts in the America In Bloom program

    Ed Evans, Town of Blowing Rock

America In Bloom judging covers seven well-defined criteria:

  • Flowers
  • Landscaped areas
  • Urban forestry
  • Environmental efforts
  • Celebration of heritage
  • Community vitality
  • Overall impression

Although the primary awards will not be announced until the last week of September when America In Bloom holds its annual symposium in Lexington, Kentucky, Blowing Rock News did learn that three properties were cited by the judges for Special Recognition. They were Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church, The Blowing Rock, and Inn at Ragged Gardens.

Jim Clabough represented the Village Foundation and the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show

Pategas and Potier-Brown explained to Blowing Rock News that they are both landscape architects professionally, and both are from Florida. Pategas is from Winter Park, while Potier-Brown calls Tampa home.

“The awards are just part of the benefit for the participating towns and cities,” Pategas noted to Blowing Rock News. “Especially in towns like Blowing Rock, there are some exceptionally talented people making sure things are looking good. But sometimes it helps to have a fresh set of eyes taking a look at what might be done, say, in a problem area.”

The Winter Park native went on to point out that the upper section of Sunset Drive is problematic because not only is it not very pedestrian friendly, but also that safety is impaired by the narrow street.

Just as important, he pointed out, Blowing Rock has a magnificent centerpiece to town in Memorial Park with the picturesque gardens and gazebo, but as someone comes up Sunset Dr. from the east a visitor’s view is blocked by telephone poles almost out in the street and too many parked cars and trucks for such a narrow street and narrow sidewalks.

Back from Europe, Town Manager Ed Evans offered his appreciative thoughts on how well coordinated the Town’s effort was, led by the Garden Club.

There are 40 villages, towns and cities being evaluated for the 2018 awards, but Blowing Rock is in a population category with just three other competitors, including North Beach, Maryland; Castle Rock, Washington; and Washtucna, Washington.

The full list includes (alphabetical, city links where available):

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