The rain had stopped and clouds were neatly in place in the newly scrubbed sky; seats set out on the drying lawn of Boston’s Public Garden were filled. The Aug. 24 ceremony awarding prizes in the Mayor’s 2012 Garden Contest was proceeding according to the script laid out by the Director of External Affairs for the Boston Parks and Recreation Department.
Contestants were urged to line up according to their category, first small yard garden, then medium yard garden, followed inevitably by the large yard garden category. Shade gardens, senior gardens, community gardens, storefront gardens, and vegetable gardens were called along with the Porch, Deck, Balcony or Window Box Gardens.
But then the man from Jet Blue took the podium. There was a stirring in the crowd as attention focused on the drawing of the name of the gardener who would win tickets for four to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival in Orlando, Florida in March, 2013.
'A Village of Flowers' in JP
Before he drew the winning name, Boston’s Jet Blue director, Ian Deason, explained that the inspiration for the Grand Prize being offered was a deck garden in JP. He told the story of visiting friends Deidre and Jamie Day in JP and hearing what a unrelenting dictator Jamie was about the watering schedule of the plants on the deck! But when he stepped onto the deck he realized these were not just any plants. There were flowers all around – he described it as stepping into a village of flowers, and luxuriant vines tumbled from the ceiling of the second floor deck down past the first floor porch. He saw people passing by looking up to marvel at the gift of beauty to Parkton Road.
At that moment he understood what Mayor Menino meant about the enrichment gardens bring to the city, and determined that Jet Blue would be part of the recognition and encouragement of that activity. The prize Jet Blue put up includes airfare and a three-night stay with admission to the Epcot Theme Park, which hosts the International Flower & Garden Festival each year.
And the winners are...
In the end, a Hyde Park gardener was the winner of the Jet Blue prize, but all the award winning gardeners, including Jamie Day, Walter Janulewicz, and Myrna Balk of JP, left with gift bags of gardening goodies.
Day, who provided the inspiration for the grand prize and was a winner in the Porch, Balcony, Deck competition, modestly described his deck gardening as “just carrying on a tradition that the previous residents had started.”
Janulewicz, who placed third the Large Yard Garden category with fellow-gardener Tim Otte, started developing his garden six years ago. He explained that everything finally started coming together this year. The judges agreed.
Myrna Balk, who took home the Golden Trowel award among the Senior Gardeners from around the city, echoed the mountain climber who explained his reason for climbing “Because the mountain is there,” Myrna Balk said she creates her beautiful gardens in response to the land. She has been gardening for years, and is not thinking about stopping just because she won the highest prize.
By the time the awards were given and photos taken, the public garden was drying out and the event caterer had laid out tasty vegetable based snacks beneath the watchful eye of George Washington’s statue. Some gardeners were already planning for next year…
Here is the complete list of 2012 Mayor's Gardening Contest Winners:
Small Yard Garden
First Place - Liz Yonda, East Boston
Second Place - Lawrence Hancock, East Boston
Third Place - Richard O'Conner, Charlestown
Medium Yard Garden
First Place - Gerald Brown, Dorchester
Second Place - Alex Galan, Dorchester
Third Place - Ric Thomas, Dorchester
Large Yard Garden
First Place - Sarah Salerno Thomas, Hyde Park
Second Place - Domenic Accetta, Dorchester
Third Place - Walter Janulewicz and Tim Otte, Jamaica Plain
Porch, Balcony, Deck or Window Box Garden
First Place - Kimberly Roberts, East Boston
Second Place - Kim Reiser and Peter Dutchka, Brighton
Third Place (tie) - Jamie Day, Jamaica Plain; Lance Swank, Dorchester
First Place (tie) - Rodney Singleton, Roxbury; Diane Carter Duggan, Roslindale
Second Place - Timothy Kinte Smith, Roslindale
Vegetable or Herb Garden
First Place (tie) - Alessandro Ferzoco, Roslindale; Joseph DeLuca, Hyde Park
Second Place - Frank and Deb Russell, South Boston
Third Place - Linh Aven, South End
First Place - Myrna Balk, Jamaica Plain
Second Place - Armando Lombardi, Allston
Third Place - Gary and Carol Chaffee, West Roxbury
Storefront, Business or Organization Garden
First Place - Timothy Haynes, Blade Barber Shop, South End
Second Place - William Gleason, West Broadway Neighborhood Association, South Boston
Third Place - Irene Walczak, Fairmount Hill Neighborhood Association, Hyde Park
First Place (tie) - John Marino, Berkeley Community Gardens, South End; Edward DeBortoli and Ken Averett, Dorchester
Second Place - Phoebe Flemming and Corinne Jager, South Boston Grows, South Boston
Third Place - Caroline Gelinas; Symphony Road Community Garden; Back Bay
Main Street District Category
First Place - Stephanie Cave, Roslindale Village Courtyard, Roslindale
Second Place - Christopher Douglas, Ashmont Grill, Dorchester