August 2013

Visit Garfield Park and vote for your favorite plant

(C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

If you’ve always wanted to have your voice heard in all those “best plants” categories, here’s your chance.

At the top of the hill at the Garfield Park Arts Center sit the four nominees for this year’s American Garden Award, the public’s chance to vote for their favorites.

Zinnia Zahara Cherry. Photo courtesy

This is the third year Garfield Park has participated in the five-year-old program. There are 30 gardens in the United States and one in Canada enrolled this year.

“We launched the American Garden Award as a way to give the general public a voice in naming their favorite flower,” said Diane Blazek, director of All-America Selections, which oversees the program. “We get new entries each fall, so it’s an ongoing competition with yearly winners determined by audience participation.”

The garden at the arts center is designed, planted and maintained by Garfield Park Master Gardener volunteers. American Garden Award supplies seeds or small plants, which are grown at no charge by Heidenreich Greenhouses on Indianapolis’ southside.

The project is not without its challenges, said Master Gardener volunteer Thomas Graham, on a recent warm, sunny afternoon at the garden.

Petunia Surfinia Summer Double Pink. Photo courtesy

The first two years, the flowers were planted on the hill, where soil erosion was a constant battle despite copious amounts of planting mix and shredded mulch. This year, the flowering candidates are planted at the top of the hill. Soil erosion is much less of a problem and the sun is better.

Graham said it takes him and Marci Phillips about three hours a week to deadhead, weed and tidy up the beds. The Friends of Garfield Park, Inc., purchases supplies, such as soaker hoses, mulch and planting mix.

“They water, weed and fertilize our four beds and keep them blooming for visitors to the center to enjoy,” said Lesley Meier, director of the Garfield Park Arts Center. Garfield Park is about 10 minutes from Downtown, just south of Fountain Square and along the Indianapolis Greenways’ Pleasant Run Trail.

“People talk about the garden as they walk by,” asking questions about the plants or commenting on them, Graham said.

Verbena Lanai Candy Cane. Photo courtesy

This year’s candidates: Impatiens SunPatiens Compact Electric Orange; Petunia Surfinia Summer Double Pink; Verbena Lanai Candy Cane; Zinnia Zahara Cherry.

Graham’s favorite: Candy Cane verbena, which does resemble the colors of candy canes. Mine: Impatiens SunPatiens Compact Electric Orange. You can vote for your favorite by keying in the numbers on plant signs into your smartphone or by visiting Voting ends Aug. 31.

Impatiens SunPatiens Compact Electric Orange. Photo courtesy