It’s a welcome sight in the heart of the city each June. Stroll along Detroit Avenue through Downtown Lakewood these days and you can’t help but notice an additional splash of greenery and color enhancing the district’s vibrancy.
Begonias and impatiens dot this urban landscape, creating a more appealing commercial district and complementing the array of downtown storefronts. Now in its 10th year, LakewoodAlive’s Blossoms Program has resulted in the addition of 51 flower boxes for 2016 – the most boxes yet – stretching east-to-west along Detroit Avenue from Barton Senior Center to Cerny Shoes.
The Blossoms Program is designed to help Downtown Lakewood merchants make their storefronts more inviting and attractive. LakewoodAlive partnered with Lakewood Garden Center to provide an opportunity for merchants to purchase newly-designed and professionally-planted Earth Box planters with flowers appropriate for the sun/shade needs of each location.
“We are pleased to introduce the 10th consecutive year of our popular and successful Blossoms Program,” said Ian Andrews, Executive Director of LakewoodAlive. “This volunteer-driven beautification service offered to Downtown Lakewood merchants is consistent with LakewoodAlive’s dedicated mission to foster and sustain vibrant neighborhoods in Lakewood.”
Longtime LakewoodAlive volunteer Kathy Haber – a 37-year resident of the City of Lakewood – has coordinated the Blossoms Program since 2007. What started as hanging baskets that proved difficult to water has evolved into flower boxes featuring built-in water reservoirs significantly reducing watering requirements.
Flyers are sent to downtown merchants each January inviting them to participate in the Blossoms Program, which includes the rental of flower boxes and stands, the planting of flowers, consistent watering throughout the summer and the pickup and storage of all items come fall. Then Haber spearheads facilitation of the program shortly after Memorial Day each year.
With assistance from Lakewood Garden Center owner Paul Bilyk, who coordinates the Blossoms Program with a grower, the materials were dropped off at the Lakewood City Center Plaza on Tuesday, May 31. There, Haber was joined by Bilyk, fellow volunteer Paula Reed and LakewoodAlive employees to distribute completed flower boxes to program participants.
Haber’s team of 15 volunteers waters the flower boxes three times per week throughout the summer, and First Federal Lakewood assists with storing the water stands the rest of the year.
“It’s really gratifying for us to be able to help beautify the city,” Haber said. “But if not for the massive effort and cooperation by a group of volunteers, none of this would be possible.”
Since the northside of Detroit Avenue typically has significant sun exposure, these merchants receive begonias, which thrive in a warm, urban setting. Conversely, the shadier southside of the street lends itself to New Guinea impatiens, which are tolerant of both sun and shade.
The success of LakewoodAlive’s Blossoms Program has enticed several merchants outside the downtown district to purchase flower boxes on their own. Meanwhile, many longtime anchor businesses in Downtown Lakewood have faithfully participated in the program for many years.
“From a visual standpoint, the flower boxes add some color and enhance the storefronts here in the downtown district,” said Dan Stroup, Co-Owner of Deagan’s Kitchen & Bar. “We’ve been really pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this program.”