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Make a Difference In Your Community with “America In Bloom”

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Dear Casual Gardener,

I want to get more involved in my community this year and bring the ideas of greening and gardening to my neighbors – perhaps even help the elderly with gardening. However, I am not sure how to do it. Can you give me suggestions?


Garden Gilly

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local community

Dear Garden Gilly,

There are many ways to enhance local community from a garden perspective. Of course, you can be a one man show and help a neighbor on your own, but it is far more effective when you get together with a group of like minded individuals – working as a team you can accomplish something wonderful.

In my local area I work with the greater gardening community accomplishing lots of fantastic gardening education and enhancement activities by teaming up through a program called “America In Bloom” ( In the photo to the left you see a group of children working to enhance the local elementary school gardens.

Since 2001, the America in Bloom (AIB) organization has helped over 130 communities from across the United States improve the quality of life for residents and visitors. AIB is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting nationwide beautification programs. Some of these programs are quite extensive, including conservation, sustainability, recycling and more. Most general programs require both personal and community involvement through the use of flowers, plants, trees and other environmental and lifestyle enhancements.

local community

Rather than winning the National Contest, the real on-going goal for the local community is to bring the community together and create a beautiful city for the residents. My local AIB team has recently created native plantings at all eight entry to the city signs with a feature on our city flower; the Rudbeckia or “Black-Eyed Susan”. As a team, we have built many native gardens and are working with the city’s environmental advisory commission to educate more homeowners about the benefits of using drought tolerant plantings, rain barrels and rain gardens to educate on water conservation and other greening and environmental concerns. As you can see in the above photo, we are also working to beautify the city with gorgeous flower pots and flower gardens.

Dorothy Deer

Dorothy Deer is the head of our local group and has dedicated her time with the community to making a difference – a truly beautiful accomplishment and so beneficial for the thousands of people who live here in my city. Dorothy has worked with the group of AIB members diligently over the years to host multiple garden walks, an art show, a native plant sale, local garden contests, built a hanging pot floral display for the city, built native plant gardens, and has worked yearly to enhance and expand the eight categories of AIB evaluation criteria:

  • Floral Displays
  • Environmental Awareness
  • Landscaped Areas
  • Tidiness
  • Urban Forestry
  • Heritage Preservation
  • Turf and Groundcovers
  • Community InvolvementAIB Symposium and Awards

This photo shows a few of the local members for the Warrenville America In Bloom at a national America In Bloom Symposium – including “yours truly.” Meeting other like-minded communities is a great benefit of the AIB National Symposium!

Belonging to the America In Bloom organization can make a big difference for your community and offers you an opportunity to get involved and help many in your neighborhood with gardening – the America In Bloom effort truly brings communities together.

Make a difference today!

Shawna Coronado says Get Healthy! Get Green! Get Community!

“My Grandmother’s Garden Series” – Ruthadell’s Garden

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  1. So glad to see you promoting such a worthwhile program such as AIB. It’s one thing to beautify your own little corner of the world, but when you can involve community, there is such an exponential benefit that comes from such efforts. I know of no other endeavor that unites people who otherwise have nothing in common, than to create a beautiful space through a garden. Three cheers to AIB and to you for bringing this to the attention of others.
    Joe Lamp’l

  2. Ms. Shawna: I’ve been thinking about AIB in my community, and have been for several years. But I’m just not sure it would go over very well. I’m the gardening columnist for my local newspaper and I think we’ve a lot of “cotton top” gardeners who might not be energetic enough to tackle AIB’s challenge.

    Hi Joe! Fancy meeting you here.

  3. Thanks for your note Tom – it’s important to note that America In Bloom is labeled a “competition,” ultimately however, it is about improving your city and community.

    In my experience, the best way to get AIB in as a part of your community is to get a group of volunteers together and approach the city.

    On the AIB website is all sorts of information detailing what magnificent things other cities have accomplished with instructions on how you can do so as well. Why not print it out and take it to your city to see what might happen?

    Change always begins slowly. Our first year we only did a few small things to improve the city, but after the local paper picked up our stories, the city started backing us, and the community has seen big changes, it’s received a wave of support. It took several years to build up to where we are now – start slowly and positive change will happen.

    Best of luck!

    Take care,


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