IIB gears up for New Year filled with flowers, workshops

Published 12:19 pm Wednesday, December 28, 2011


As it ends its fourth year as one of the most visible civic groups in the city, Ironton in Bloom will head into the New Year prosperous and filled with ideas.

Each year the organization that coordinates the planting of flowers downtown is committed to spending approximately $40,000 to a commercial greenhouse that handles the actual planting and maintenance.

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Paying that bill comes from donations from IBB supporters and this year its supporters have come through for the organization.

“We have met our needs with this last support letter,” Carol Allen, IIB president, said. “We have received over $5,000 in donations. We probably had over 50 responses from that last letter.”

Now IIB is already looking toward spring and summer after it recently signed a contract with Mamaw’s Nursery for $42,000.

“We are ready to start next year,” Allen said. “(The contract) went up just a little bit last year. We added the spray park to our program and added seven larger containers. We have increased our containers so obviously the cost will go up a bit.”

One way IIB wants to handle those costs is through the newly formed OPT — Ownership, Pride and Teamwork — program. That will offer businesses and individuals the chance to support IIB’s work through different kinds of sponsorships. Sponsorships include corporate where a particular area will be chosen to be developed and maintained; small business or individual where a pole planter placed in front of a business or store will be maintained; and the civic level geared toward individuals who will either pay to maintain an area or will provide the work.

As the volunteer group’s finances become stronger, IIB is focusing on educational programs to teach the community more about how to bring floral and outdoor beauty into their own realm.

“We are partnering with the Ironton Furnace Weed Management Cooperative,” Allen said. “Every two months we are holding free seminars at Ohio University. We have had two this year and we want to continue this.”

The next one, which will be in February, will focus on how to recognize invasive plants and how to treat them once they get into a yard.

“If you don’t treat them, they take over,” she said. “There are flowers and trees that do the same thing. We are going to work on trying to educate the public.”

Another project is a cooperative effort with Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital that could possibly result in a community garden.

“If this gets going, it would be buying a piece of property and put in a raised bed where community gardeners can get a plot … and grow your own garden,” Allen said. “There may be a minimal cost of $25.”

IIB would also like to teach gardeners how to create their own native plant garden where everything is indigenous to the county.

“It would be a demonstration-type garden to show how by using that which is native you don’t have to give it a lot of water and it will live all by itself,” she said. “You can build a really nice garden without putting on a whole lot of fertilizer and extra water.”

As IIB starts its fifth year, the organization sees a cooperative effort between it and downtown businesses and city neighborhoods.

“We are opening people’s eyes,” she said. “We have so much buy-in from our downtown merchants who have supported this group.”