BY MARY KAY SWEIKAR
The charming Tudor home at 2402 N. Vermilion St. (corner of Vermilion and Cedar streets) took the grand prize in the 17th annual Make It Bloom contest sponsored by the Danville Garden Club.
Jim Holman and Sandee Hess have finally created the ``storybook garden'' of their dreams after working diligently on the landscaping since they moved in three years ago.
Cash prizes and certificates were awarded to Make It Bloom winners in all categories at a special ceremony Saturday.
More than 500 homeowners and businesses were nominated for the gardening contest, which was sponsored and organized by the Danville Garden Club.
Even though they took first place for Region 2 in last year's Make it Bloom contest, Holman said they didn't expect to be nominated again this year.
``We just garden because we love it,'' he said. ``Sandee and I have always talked about having a beautiful flower garden, and finally we live in a place where we can make it a reality.''
Holman, who has worked for the Danville Post Office for 33 years, remembers when Make it Bloom first started -17 years ago. ``I remember that the ladies who ran the contest came down to the post office and asked the carriers to nominate gardens when they walked around on their routes,'' he said. ``We were happy to participate.''
He added, ``I feel this contest is a good thing because it encourages residents to take pride in their community. I know that we personally want our home and yard to be an asset to the neighborhood.''
This grand prize garden is rooted with many different annuals that grow back more lush every year, including foxglove, delphinium, purple cone flowers, balloon flowers, daisies, coral bells, lilies and daylilies, red hibiscus and climbing roses on trellises. Plentiful hostas, rhododendrons and hydrangeas occupy the shaded areas of the back yard.
For annuals, Jim and Sandee have chosen red geraniums, petunias, begonias, impatiens, and alyssum in white, purple and red hues. A variegated willow tree, a tri-colored beech, and a flowering crab tree are also on the property.
``When we first moved here, we removed a lot of bushes and trees that obscured the house, and we've gradually filled out those areas with flowers,'' Holman said.
Jim and Sandee have a fondness for rabbits, and between 20 and 30 concrete rabbits peek out from under the plantings in their garden.
Holman said it takes about 1½ hours to water their yard on days that it doesn't rain. They also use lots of mulch and Preen to keep the weeds down. ``This has been a good gardening year, with just the right temperatures, rainfall and sunshine,'' he added.
The couple purchased nearly all their plantings at local greenhouses, which they visit frequently.
Make it Bloom awards
Make it Bloom awards are presented to a grand prize winner, first- through third-place winners, honorable mention, and continuing excellence winners in four regions of Danville. Gardens are nominated by the public and judged by Garden Club members and gardening professionals under one of four categories: I Did It My Way, Business is Blooming, Blocks of Blooms, and Danville Garden Club members.
Several rounds of judging are used to determine winners from nominations submitted by the community.
Jacque Eicher, who has been chair of this event for the past five years, said, ``I want to thank my committee, the judges and the many community sponsors, as well as everyone who cultivated a beautiful garden this year. The Danville Garden Club especially appreciates the interest and support shown by Mayor Eisenhauer, the City of Danville, Neuhoff Braoadcasting, Sunset Funeral Home, the Commercial-News, and CrossRoads Christian Church.''
The gold sponsor was Keep Vermilion County Beautiful. In addition, more than 80 local businesses and individuals helped sponsor the contest at various levels.