On November 7th, 2013 over 150 people gathered at the Columbia Manor in Northeast Minneapolis to recognize beautiful Minneapolis gardens, and the people that create them, at our annual Minneapolis Garden Awards event. It was an awe-inspiring evening filled with stories of how many of these gardens came to be. And just how did we choose these gardens? That would be the work of our fabulous volunteer garden evaluators…
Every spring Metro Blooms sends out the call to garden lovers everywhere. “Help us evaluate the beautiful gardens of Minneapolis, and don’t forget to nominate your own!” Nominations are how the system works. Metro Blooms nominates all of the gardens that we’ve helped install over the years, but we count on citizens to nominate the rest of the beautiful gardens out there. Only raingardens, you may be wondering? No, no, no. We certainly love raingardens, but we love beautification gardens too and we want to know about them all!
Once the gardens are nominated (usually between 1000-2000!), we divvy them up between our 100 or so volunteer evaluators. These volunteers are the basis of the program; it couldn’t function without them and we are SO very grateful each year they show up! The evaluators are trained on what signs to look for to determine if a garden is healthy, if it’s a raingarden, and if it’s filled with weeds. What I’ve heard is that evaluating is great fun; I’m thinking I’ll have to get on the bandwagon next year. The evaluators then visit their assigned gardens, evaluate them, and assign each garden a score. The gardens with the highest score are evaluated again, and then again, until we end up with a “Best” garden in each of 10-12 categories. The categories change every year, because, after all, variety is the spice of life.
For the past two years, we’ve held a gala event to recognize all of our garden award winners and present the best gardens with an award. Before this, the recognition event was part of Metro Blooms’ annual Blooms Day. It was in a gym, and not super special, and we decided it was time they earned a nice evening out for their beautiful gardens (or rather the garden creators and caretakers). This year we presented 11 best garden awards and heard some lovely stories about neighborhood beautification, environmental stewardship, and community collaboration. So thank you again to our wonderful volunteers (evaluators and event planners), our sponsors Midwest Home, Minnesota Monthly, Bachman’s, Car2Go, Plaisted Companies, Donaldson Filtration Solutions, and Edelweiss Design, the fantastic musician Scott Mateo Davies who serenaded us all evening, and all of the gardeners of Minneapolis, who do so much to beautify our city and protect our environment.