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Wednesday, April 22, 2009 01:01 am

Lets plant the town red

(and yellow, purple and white)

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Springfield in Bloom — the community-wide beautification program that challenges homeowners, businesses and nonprofit groups to bring beautiful new color and life to their street-side yards — is now in its fifth year.

Since 2004, hundreds of projects have been completed in this friendly competition, creating lush new landscapes in neighborhoods and central city boulevards, and bringing new life to previously boring commercial lots. Projects of every size and scope are welcome to join the fun as we make Springfield beautiful, one yard at a time.

Here come the judges!

Although Springfield in Bloom is free to enter and open to anyone within a 25-mile radius of Springfield, residents of the capital city have an added incentive to participate in SIB this year. Springfield is competing for national recognition in the America in Bloom competition. In mid-July a team of AIB judges will evaluate the city’s efforts in nine different categories, including historic preservation, tree management and such. But one of the key aspects of this national competition is community participation. Springfield in Bloom is expected to help the city shine in this category. It is hard to imagine a U.S. city that has worked harder to clean and green its neighborhoods and business districts. The goal is for judges to see hundreds of Springfield in Bloom signs and colorful landscaped areas when they tour the town.

Plant the town red

The local America in Bloom committee is encouraging gardeners to “Plant the Town Red” by adding red-blooming flowers to their new or existing gardens. Area nurseries are displaying specially marked plants in red, and other colors in eye-catching combinations, including annuals and perennials for both full sun and shade options. It doesn’t matter whether you incorporate lots of red or just a little. Families and friends are encouraged to team up and improve their gardens or start new ones.

Entry forms are available at Illinois National Bank locations, the Springfield Home Builders Association and online at www.springfieldinbloom.org or www.illinoistimes.com. Completed applications should be delivered to Illinois Times, 1320 South State, where entrants will receive a colorful yard sign to identify the property as a part of the contest. Each entry will need to submit photos of the completed garden (taken when it is at its peak). Deadline to submit photos is July 6. Voting begins online in mid-July. A team of SIB judges will make the final determination of winners, which are announced in early August. Questions can be directed to Sharon Whalen 217 / 753-2226 x137 or info@springfieldinbloom.org.

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