Kokomo, Indiana is my hometown; a small town in central Indiana where I was born. Without a doubt, my grandmother’s helped stimulate my passion for gardening in their country gardens near the city. I grew up climbing trees, crawdaddy fishing, and picking wildflowers on a farm in it’s outer limits, went to Northwestern High School, and learned from an early age in this small town that hard work and family were fundamental to life. For the last eight years the city has worked hard to revitalize parts of Kokomo by creating a beautiful, welcoming community via flower displays throughout the spring and summer seasons. As a part of the initiative to beautify the city in 2014 the HGTV Plant Collection selected Kokomo, Indiana as it’s showcase city in the United States to demonstrate their amazing plant line and help make a difference for the neighbors of my hometown.
Beautifying the city you live in, no matter how small or large the the size of the city, is essential to maintaining businesses within the community; beautify it and they will come! Beyond stimulating the economy in a financially responsible way, there are numerous positive results from city beautification including improvement of property values, crime reduction, decreased vandalism, increased civic involvement, health improvements, and stronger civic pride in local neighborhoods. Fixing up your city by installing gardens and hanging containers can truly make a difference and lead to socially good improvements.
Mark and Julie Hilligoss of Country Raisins Nursery championed the local growth, installation, and coordination of the HGTV Plant Collection displays with remarkable results. I drove down last week to meet up with the Hilligoss family and learn more about what the displays mean to the city and was impressed by the passion so many feel for the flowers around town. A hundred Kokomo residents plant and support the 700 flower displays in hopes it will empower the local businesses and residents with economic possibilities. Mark Hilligoss said, “For the last eight years we have had outstanding volunteers, people who live and work in Kokomo, come out to plant up all the flowering displays to help bring a special feeling to Kokomo. The experience is all about family and friends working together to help the city we love really shine.”
This year’s display is particularly memorable – the smart, stylish plants from the HGTV Plant Collection brighten up City Hall and the downtown area, Apperson Way and Sycamore streets, the Veteran’s Memorial, and the Indiana University campus. Ground plantings are varied and hanging containers feature bold annual plantings filled with color to draw the eye up and make passers-by smile. According to America in Bloom, a national organization built to help improve and beautify cities, well-tended communities have less crime, increased tourism, and a stronger economy. Start a project in your community today to help bring your neighbors together like Kokomo has. Congrats to Kokomo for it’s excellent initiatives and support from HGTV!