DOUG HACKBARTHDuring the month of August we were able to do a lot of traveling and as always, everywhere we go we pay special attention to businesses and peoples in-ground and container gardens. Most of our trips are up north due to the excessive heat everywhere. Places such as Mackinac Island where gardening does not begin until late June making August, and after a great time for seeing the Grand Hotel, Mission Point and the Windermere Hotel’s many colorful gardens, so beautiful that weddings take place any day of the week all summer long.

A luncheon trip to Gaylord lead to a side trip to Charlevioux, Michigan where the entire Main Street through the middle of town is completely lined on both sides with beautiful petunias from one end of town to the other. This practice has been going on for decades-Good Job! However, while walking the streets of Charlevioux and looking at businesses window boxes and potted plants, we were not so impressed as they were mostly lacking any attention and were pretty much dried up.

Later in the month we took our grandkids on up to Port Clinton and Put-in-Bay Island where everywhere you looked the flowers were great. It really seems that in areas where summers are short, the business owners take great pride in their short season flower gardens and really try hard to make them look beautiful. They have a real appreciation for how these flowers effect the tourist walking by and they see and hear the good commits spoken by these tourists amongst themselves.

And now to much warmer areas such as Chicago, Fort Wayne and Jefferson Point. Last week while attending the IGC (Independent Garden Centers) seminar at Navy Pier, we had the opportunity to walk around vast areas of Michigan Avenue and the Loop in downtown Chicago where there is obvious pride taken by the citizens. We visit Chicago often and at different times of the year so it is always fun to see how they plant their flowerbeds, changing out the plants on a very regular basis and continually keep up with the changing seasons. Also, their use of tropical “house plants” blended into the landscapes. Palms, miniature schefflera, croton, philodendron-selloum plants just to name a few, all incorporated along with annuals and shrubs and trees into a perfect harmony that no one else ever seems to think of. I should also mention the vast usage of extremely large, fresh flower arrangements that seem to appear in all of the Hotels and restaurants. Get with it Fort Wayne!

But in defense of Fort Wayne, how about our parks!? Are they not the best, well-designed parks year after year without fail! If anyone has trouble trying to figure out what to plant next year, simply go to your local parks and get some great ideas now before they dig up those flowers and replace the with spring blooming bulbs. Fort Wayne Parks Department is one of the greatest, on-the-ball functioning businesses in the Greater Fort Wayne area. Use them/learn from them.