A Tale Of Nearly 200 Cities

The 10-year milestone of the America In Bloom (AIB) program takes me back to when industry leaders came together through OFA to take a leap of faith. We agreed to launch a collective marketing program focused on making plantings more visible by beautifying cities and towns. Canada’s successful Communities In Bloom was our model and we had a pilot program with four U.S. cities paired with four mentoring Canadian cities in their national program in 2001.

The moment of truth came that fall, when it was time to launch a full AIB competition in the United States in 2002. Would enough cities participate? In Ohio, I approached Westlake, where I live, and Willoughby, where I work, and was thrilled both mayors agreed to enter. But what has been even better is the “flower power” or multiplier effect I’ve seen since. The quality of the plantings just get better as they spread and pop up throughout the towns.

Bang From Baskets
Willoughby has the best hanging basket program in Northeast Ohio. Instead of trying to figure out how to do baskets on its own, the city partnered with a grower to produce baskets that would last spring through summer. The key to any basket program is regular watering/fertilizing and the city has crews watering every morning with mobile water trucks, rain or shine.

Each year, the baskets change in terms of the mix of petunias and calibrachoas. Dragon Wing begonias have been a fool-proof choice, as well. In addition to the baskets throughout the historic retail district atop fancy lightposts, they stretch down Euclid Avenue on all the telephone poles for at least a mile. Baskets of geraniums then adorn a fence near a park.

The business district also has large, square, wrought iron planters around each tree. Planter boxes decorate both sides of the bridge spanning the Chagrin River. As a result, Willoughby has become such a nice place to be and the restaurants and shops keep getting hipper and trendier all the time.

Big On Bloom
Out of all the cities that have participated in AIB, Westlake (a past winner) does the best job of organizing a local contest modeled after AIB. Residents enter categories for homes, condo associations, businesses, nursing homes and churches, and all the raised adopt-a-beds on Hilliard Boulevard are automatically entered. Local master gardeners judge the entries. About 300 residents will turn out for the awards in August presented by the mayor. Four garden centers present gift certificates as prizes to the winning entries and have been instrumental in educating the public on plantings. Just about every development in Westlake has nice landscaping, and the In Bloom program has become a focal point in all the city’s communications.

Show Your Support
At the OFA Short Course in Columbus this month, there will be a special celebration recognizing all the individuals and companies who supported AIB for 10 years. It will be an opportunity for the industry to “renew its vows” and financial support for the program, which many didn’t think would last more than three years. As an industry, we’re highly skeptical of national promotions, but this is one that has lasted 10 years on a modest budget thanks to OFA and those who continued to contribute after the initial five-year pledge.

What can you do to support the cause? Buy an AIB raffle ticket ($100) before July 11, when the winning tickets will be drawn at our Evening of Excellence reception at Short Course. Approach your towns about participating next year. The best place to really learn about the program is the AIB symposium and awards program, which will be in Washington, D.C., Oct. 6-8. The event will be extra special returning to our nation’s capital for the 10-year milestone. For more information, visit AmericaInBloom.org.

Leave a Reply

More From Marketing...
Petal-it-Forward

October 3, 2017

October 11 is Your Chance to Petal it Forward

The Society of American Florists’ “Petal it Forward” campaign returns in 2017. Learn how you can participate in this day of spreading kindness through flowers.

Read More
Micandy Gardens Team

September 17, 2017

4 Ways Micandy Gardens Greenhouses Reaches Out to Millennials

Micandy leverages social media to get the word out about its products and spread the word about how flowers can make a difference in people’s lives.

Read More
Costa Farms Exotic Angel Idea Book

September 12, 2017

Costa Farms’ New Lookbook Offers Consumers Ideas on Best Plants for the Home

The new “Bring Your Home to Life” lookbook is a curated collection of more than 300 unique plant varieties best suited to grow in homes and offices.

Read More
Latest Stories
Petal-it-Forward

October 3, 2017

October 11 is Your Chance to Petal it Forward

The Society of American Florists’ “Petal it Forward” campaign returns in 2017. Learn how you can participate in this day of spreading kindness through flowers.

Read More
Micandy Gardens Team

September 17, 2017

4 Ways Micandy Gardens Greenhouses Reaches Out to Mill…

Micandy leverages social media to get the word out about its products and spread the word about how flowers can make a difference in people’s lives.

Read More
Costa Farms Exotic Angel Idea Book

September 12, 2017

Costa Farms’ New Lookbook Offers Consumers Ideas on Bes…

The new “Bring Your Home to Life” lookbook is a curated collection of more than 300 unique plant varieties best suited to grow in homes and offices.

Read More
Certified American Grown Flowers

September 5, 2017

Certified American Grown Flowers Names New Third-Party …

The organization’s new partnership with Where Food Comes From Inc., an agriculture-focused certification company with more than 20 years of experience, will be launched via video conference on September 14.

Read More
Container Gardening

September 5, 2017

14 Consumer Gardening Trends That Have Stood the Test o…

In early September, the Garden Media Group will unveil its 2018 Garden Trends report. To whet your appetite, here’s a look back at several trends that remain relevant today.

Read More

August 29, 2017

Know Your Grower: New Platform Brings Consumer Transpar…

The new Follow Your Flower or Plant vignette from MPS allows consumers to learn all about the producers of the plants and flowers they see at retail, and how sustainably their products are grown.

Read More
green-plan-it-gardening-outdoor-nature-explore-classroom

August 29, 2017

First-Of-Its-Kind Federal Grant Designed to Stimulate C…

The National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture has received a USDA grant to help develop strategies and tactics to grow the practice of gardening 20% by 2025.

Read More
Luxfloraflowerrun17

July 20, 2017

Luxflora Attracted Even More Participation to its Secon…

More than 170 runners kicked off Cultivate'16 on Sunday, July 16, with Luxflora's second annual 5k race. It was a great way to start the week, participants said.

Read More
National Garden Bureau 2018 Year of the Calibrachoa

July 15, 2017

National Garden Bureau Announces Featured Plants for it…

Plant classes recognized include bulb crops (tulip), annuals (calibrachoa), vegetables/edibles (beet), and perennials (coreopsis).

Read More
cut flower arrangement

July 5, 2017

Congress Designates July as American Grown Flowers Mont…

Last week, Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) introduced a bipartisan resolution designating July as “American Grown Flowers Month.” Co-sponsored by Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (WA-03), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA-50), Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Rep. Don Young (AK-1), Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-02), and Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49), House Resolution 413 declares July as the month to celebrate the economic and cultural impact of America’s cut flower and greens farmers and demonstrate Congress’ commitment to support America’s flower farming families. Congressman Carbajal spoke from the House Floor, introducing the legislation and encouraging fellow members of Congress to support American Grown Flowers Month. “I have seen firsthand the value the grown flower industry adds to our economy and communities during my visits with our Central Coast growers,” said Rep. Carbajal. “California produces three quarters of all cut flowers grown in the United States. I am committed to recognizing their contribution […]

Read More
PlantHaven Team 2017

July 2, 2017

PlantHaven Wins Medal of Excellence Award for Marketing

After 20 years of making the world a more vibrant, colorful place, PlantHaven wins Greenhouse Grower’s Medal of Excellence Award for Marketing for its groundbreaking ability to connect breeders, growers, and consumers through personable advertising campaigns.

Read More

June 1, 2017

Reimagining a Brand: How Did We Do With Greenhouse Grow…

Changing the design and content strategy of a brand isn't easy, but we think the new Greenhouse Grower will help carry our innovative industry forward and allow us to better serve your information needs.

Read More
NICH Plants Do That infographic feature

April 11, 2017

New Infographic Highlights Economic Impact of Plants

A new report from the National Institute for Consumer Horticulture shows how horticulture positively affects people’s lives wherever they live, work, shop, and play.

Read More
National Garden Bureau New Website

March 22, 2017

National Garden Bureau’s New Website Features Mobile-Fr…

The new site is designed to serve as a home base to drive traffic from NGB’s social media community to one central location.

Read More

March 7, 2017

Local Florists Celebrate Women’s Day and SAF Prom…

Florists across the U.S. are celebrating International Women's Day, March 8, and raising awareness for non-profit organizations. The Society of American Florists is raising its own awareness of what happens when women receive flowers with a new video for International Women's Day.

Read More
Savor New Website

February 16, 2017

Pleasant View Launches Updated Website for its Savor Ed…

The site is designed to offer a friendly and informative vehicle that delivers product information in an easy-to-navigate format.

Read More

January 24, 2017

Beekenkamp Plants B.V. to Take Over Marketing Sunny Ost…

Beekenkamp Plants B.V. will take over Sunny Holland B.V.'s marketing activities as of July 1, 2017, and begin offering Sunny Osteospermum to the supply chain.

Read More
gg-january-2017-cover-arizonaeast-feature

January 5, 2017

Why ArizonaEast Is Expanding Its Succulent Production T…

In Greenhouse Grower's January cover story, learn how Brian and Joe Vitale of ArizonaEast saw a chance to expand and diversify their New Jersey-based succulent operation, and why they jumped at the opportunity.

Read More