February 2018

Indianapolis gardener who tended Johnson Road plot passes away

Bill Hopkins. Photo courtesy Hopkins family

Bill Hopkins. Photo courtesy Hopkins family

Bill Hopkins, who planted traffic-stopping floral displays in his garden at 71st Street and Johnson Road, has passed away.

People who drove in his northeast side neighborhood periodically contacted me and other writers for The Indianapolis Star about Hopkins’ gardens and the honor system for buying $5, fresh-cut bouquets.

“He took up floral landscaping as a hobby when he retired from Lilly,” said his daughter, Kimberley Hopkins Rusk. “He was a agriculturalist for then named ELANCO, so he had a plethora of knowledge on plants, growth, weeds and insect control.”

It wasn’t the knowledge so much as Hopkins’ love of flowers that prompted him to plant thousands of annuals, perennials and other plants each summer from 1983 to 1999, when he sold the one-acre Indianapolis plot.

He moved to Pebble Brook Golf Course in 2006 and turned the barren Noblesville, Ind., landscape into “something magnificent, although on a much smaller scale. My father instilled in me his love of annuals, perennials (and) ornamentals, so much so, (that) I started and ran my own floral scape company from 1990 to 2000. I learned so much from my father those years and to this day, still have that desire,” she said.

“We both were looking forward to this spring and summer, when we could get out in his garden and cultivate something beautiful for the neighbors to enjoy,” Rusk said.

Her 80-year-old father’s health took a turn May 21, she said, and he passed away June 1.

“My father didn’t want a traditional funeral, but something to share with others and to celebrate his life and love of living color.” The family will hold a public celebration of Hopkins’ life in his garden at 4 p.m., June 19, 355 Sand Brook Dr., Noblesville, Ind. For more information, contact Rusk, (317) 441-7780.

“He didn’t think he had done much in this world we live, but in my heart of hearts I know that many admired what he did,” his daughter said.

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