CROSSLAKE — For Nancy Koch, flowers are her life.
She’s owned Northwedge Greenhouse in Crosslake for 30 years. So it’s only natural that Koch helped coordinate “Crosslake in Bloom,” an annual event sponsored by the Crosslake office of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber, that aims to brighten and beautify the Crosslake area.
Crosslake in Bloom is a spring and summer campaign made up of three-components — gardening seminars for the public, a garden contest open to residential property and businesses, then culminates with a luncheon and garden tour in July.
“I see this event as an opportunity for the community, as a whole, to beautify the area and bring people in,” Koch said, noting the event is modeled after a national movement called America in Bloom.
“A lot of towns are endeavoring to do this,” Koch said. “We’re just doing it on a smaller scale. But I’m hoping it will grow and expand every year so it will be a real draw like, ‘Crosslake in Bloom. We’ve got to go see it.’”
The gardening seminars kick off on March 22 with information to help people start, or maintain, their own vegetable gardens. With an increasing national push toward eating more organically-grown produce, Arlene Jones of The Farm on St Mathias will give participants pointers on putting fresh food on the table at a minimal cost.
A different seminar will be highlighted each month, including Gardening for Birds and Butterflies, April 18; Plant Your Own Container Garden, May 16; Composting Basics, June 20; and Wildflowers, July 18. Seminars are hosted at various locations around the Crosslake area. Cost to participate is $8 in advance, $10 at the door or $35 when registering for all five.
July will also mark the Crosslake in Bloom garden contest. Separate awards are offered for residential and business gardens in categories, including floral (including annuals and perennials), container, shade, water and vegetable gardens.
The garden contest categories this year have also been expanded to include shoreline restoration and rain gardens. All Crosslake businesses and residential property owners are encouraged to participate. There is no cost to enter and judging will be by Crosslake Garden Club members in early July.
Cindy Myogeto with the chamber’s Crosslake office said this event has proved to be a popular one and gives area businesses and home owners an extra incentive to spruce up their property for the spring and summer months. Last year, 10 homes and nine businesses participated in the contest, a number Myogeto hopes will increase this year.
On July 21, Crosslake in Bloom will include the event’s luncheon and garden tours. Chandra Gebhardt of Fairview Gardens in Sauk Rapids will be this year’s featured speaker at the Crosslake Lutheran Church.
New to this year’s luncheon will be several educational exhibits providing information on topics from shoreline restoration to rain gardens and more. Following the lunch, participants will be given maps of the five featured gardens and set out on a self-guided tour of the magnificent properties that go above and beyond your average flower bed.
Koch was one of the featured garden owners on last year’s tour and said it was a personal highlight for her to, not only display her efforts, but to also walk through the other gardens.
“It was so interesting to see the variety,” she said, noting a range from a small, but gorgeous, garden at a lake home to a lavish and extravagant garden just down the road. “It’s just so interesting to see what people do around their homes. Each were different. You didn’t feel like you were just walking in and seeing beds of flowers. Everyone had something different and unique to their gardens.”
Cost to participate in the luncheon and garden tour is $20. Exhibits open at 11 a.m. with the luncheon served at noon.
For more information regarding seminar dates, times and content, as well as the rest of the Crosslake in Bloom event, visit www.crosslake.com.