City of Gardens: Porches a pleasing prospect

This year’s City of Gardens Rockford In Bloom community beautification awards will focus on residential front porches and retail business entryways.

“Front porches and entryways have played a historic role in the development of our neighborhoods and community,” said Ruth Miller, program director for the City of Gardens, a program of the Rockford Park District Foundation. “Porches and entryways serve as meeting places, offer respite from summer heat, and are places where stories of the past have been passed from one generation to the next.”

This contest will coincide with Rockford’s entry in international competition for Communities in Bloom, with international judges visiting our community Aug. 6-8. This year’s initiative is much more than beautification; it’s about relationships and the quality of life issues that strengthen neighborhoods and reduce crime, thereby creating pleasing environments for visitors and residents that ultimately yield a return on the investment through increased property values and decreased criminal activity.

According to Miller: “When Chicago landscape architect Doug Hoerr came to speak to Rockford leaders last year about Mayor Daley’s beautification efforts, he touted the benefits of having a pleasing entryway to businesses. In 1991, he convinced the owners at Crate and Barrel to create a garden-like entryway at their business on Michigan Avenue, promising to remove it if it didn’t bring in more customers. It worked, and other retailers followed suit. Now they have garden competitions and garden walks on Michigan Avenue. We can do this in Rockford, too,” challenged Ruth Miller. “Hoerr further stated that dollar for dollar, there is no quicker way to turn around the perception of a tired urban streetscape than with practical and smart use of urban greening.”

Entry forms are available at local greenhouses and garden centers, the Rockford Park District, or local city administrative offices. Nominations for both residential and business categories must be within the Rockford Park District service area, which includes Rockford, Loves Park, New Milford, parts of Cherry Valley and adjacent unincorporated areas of Winnebago and Boone counties. Nominees must be visible from a right of way (street, sidewalk, path, etc.) or have public access. Entrants should meet at least three of these criteria: use of color, design, unity of elements, appropriate to the style of the building or home, originality, maintenance and embellishments.

Residential nominees should be the work of the homeowner. Photos must accompany nominations and will not be returned. The deadline for nominations is July 10. Nominations may come directly from the homeowner or business and should be mailed to City of Gardens, Rockford Park District Foundation, 401 S. Main St., Suite 112, Rockford, IL 61101-1321.

From the June 28-July 4, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!