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Local garden aficionados worthy of state recognition

First impressions can be deceiving, but they also can be revealing.

Visitors traveling from the east into the city of Marquette didn’t used to have the sights they do now, which in the summer are masses of flower blooms.

They are a result of Petunia Pandemonium, spearheaded by the Marquette Beautification & Restoration Committee Inc.

The MBRC and one of its most active members, Vice President Barb Kelly, who owns the local landscaping company Flourishes LLC, were honored Monday by the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association with the organization’s Plant Michigan Green Community Landscape Beautification Awards.

And beautify they have.

Proceeds from the committee’s annual Garden Tour help fund Petunia Pandemonium in which local schoolchildren and the community plant literally hundreds of flower flats every year along Front Street and its roundabout.

That’s an important area in town, called by some the “Gateway to Marquette.” At the roundabout, people have the choice of either going down the bypass or into downtown. Either way, they have something nice to look at while they’re driving.

The MBRC also is responsible for the refurbishing of Father Marquette Park. In July 2018, the park was “rededicated” to showcase the new public art as well as accessible pathways, fencing, a picnic area and security cameras. The park is home to “Tami’s Garden” in memory of the late MBRC President Tami Dawidowski as well as a scenic overlook in honor of the late Karl Zueger, former Marquette Community Services director.

Pedestrians along Lakeshore Boulevard, and drivers too, also can see a hillside full of black-eyed Susans, now in full bloom, at the park.

In addition to owning Flourishes, Kelly, a garden designer, is vice president of the MBRC and chairwoman of Petunia Pandemonium, and sits on the Father Marquette Park Committee.

When citizens talk about beautifying a community, some people might roll their eyes, or not take the topic seriously. How can a few flower pots scattered throughout town take precedence over other problems such as crumbling roads and budget issues?

Except we’re not talking about a few pots here, at least not in Marquette. Of course, things like roads, finances and brownfields are important, but beautification plays a part in all of these. Proper horticultural practices can benefit an area environmentally, and a visually appealing town can attract tourists — and keep them coming back, which adds to the money coffers, which in turns allows a municipality to have more funds to spend on projects.

We salute the efforts of the MBRC, its members and Barb Kelly, all of whom have contributed so much to the quality of life in Marquette. They are worthy recipients of the MNLA’s awards, and we hope they continue with their good work.