COVID-19 coronavirus prompts Westerflora tour to go VirtualFlora

MARLA K. KUHLMAN
mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com
Barb Sheperd's backyard at 6380 Birkewood St. features hardscape items and a pond in addition to flowers and plants.

Although the annual WesterFlora event has been canceled this year because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Westerville Garden Club is offering VirtualFlora this year.

Vickie Muse, a Westerville Garden Club member and a WesterFlora's co-chairman this year, said all Westerville residents in the 43081 and 43082 ZIP codes are invited to participate in VirtualFlora by sending one to two photos of their garden/landscape to westerflora@gmail.com along with their name and ZIP code.

All pictures will be posted on the WesterFlora website and WesterFlora Facebook page through July 31.

Muse said Westerville residents have a long history of gardening and WesterFlora has been a way to celebrate some of the wonderful gardens created in the past 28 years.

Each year the Westerville Garden Club, along with the Westerville Parks & Recreation Department and Hoover Gardens, held a community landscape tour featuring some of the best home gardens in Westerville.

"This year would have been the 29th consecutive year of WesterFlora, which was always family-friendly, open to the general public and free of charge," she said.

Muse said she thinks gardening has helped many residents deal with the pandemic.

"Gardening allows everyone an opportunity to enjoy the fresh air while respecting social distancing, adds positive energy in people's livesand gives families something fun to do, regardless of whether you live in an apartment or on acres of land," she said. "Residents can enjoy the beautiful flowers all summer long."

Muse said people can also grow fruits and vegetables in their landscaping.

"Any available spot is a place where you can put a tomato, pepper and lettuce," she said. "You can also grow flowers and many vegetables in containers.

"A pot on your porch or deck will grow most kinds of flowers and vegetables, as long as it gets sunlight, water and adequate fertilizer."

Linda Laine said she and her husband, Jeff, have a half acre at 1115 Blue Heron Drive in the Landings subdivision, and they've been part of WesterFlora at least 10 times over the years.

She said the idea with gardening is to have fun.

Laine said she has been a garden club member for approximately eight years and likes seeing her plants through other people's eyes.

Recently a recent young girl visited and told Laine she felt like Alice in Wonderland.

She advises new gardeners to start in a small area and fill it with flowers that bring happiness.

"My house is an explosion of flowers," she said. "We get drive-by's with people seeing how the gardens are doing.

"My husband Jeff has done a lot of arbors and the gazebo. We make a lot of our own things."

She said she specializes in dahlias and hydrangeas.

"I like to experiment," Laine said. "Go to a garden center to see what makes you happy.

"I have a continuation of blooms from early spring to frost."

She said this year she enhanced the pathway leading to the house.

She said the property also incorporates 10 water features, a swing arbor, home-crafted floating butterfly, birdhouses, window boxes and a private area in the back with a gazebo.

"We also try to do things for the wildlife, especially the birds," Laine said.

WesterFlora began in 1992, the year the AmeriFlora International Flower Show was held in Columbus at Franklin Park, Muse said.

Westerville and other communities throughout central Ohio spruced up their landscapes and conducted local gardening contests and tours in conjunction with AmeriFlora.

WesterFlora has been awarded first place by the Garden Club of Ohio Inc. and National Garden Club Inc. as the Best Residential Landscape Design Event for the past two years, Muse said.

For more information, go to westerflora.com.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla