By Starrla Cray
HOWARD LAKE, MN Howard Lake businesses that would like to participate in the hanging flower basket design contest can pick up their empty baskets at the Howard Lake City Hall today (Monday).
Baskets should be filled with flowers and taken back to the city hall by Wednesday, June 23.
Volunteers from the community will judge the baskets during the Good Neighbor Days celebration, which is set for Thursday, June 24 through Sunday, June 27.
The top three baskets will receive Howard Lake Bucks, which can be used at stores in Howard Lake. Retailers can accept Howard Lake Bucks as they would US dollars, and can then trade them for cash at Security State Bank of Howard Lake.
First place will earn $50 in Howard Lake Bucks, second prize is $30, and third prize is $20.
The baskets will be hung either on Eighth Street or Highway 12. Each one will have a tag that displays the business’s name.
“They stay up all summer long,” city administrator Kelly Hinnenkamp said.
After they are hung, the city takes care of watering the baskets.
The contest is sponsored by both the Howard Lake Business Association and the City of Howard Lake.
Its first year was in 2008, when the city purchased about 20 hanging baskets.
“Both years, we’ve had good participation from the businesses,” Hinnenkamp said.
In 2009, Paschke Law Office and Herald Journal Publishing tied for first place in this year’s flower basket design contest. Third place went to Security State Bank of Howard Lake.
Evelyn Fowler, a master gardener who designed the basket for Herald Journal, said that it sometimes takes experience to select plants that will work well for the baskets.
“You’re looking for plants that are durable and that take care of themselves,” Fowler said.
She recommends geraniums, petunias, million bells, and vinca vines. Dusty miller plants can be good filler, she added.
“Sometimes, it gets tricky to get a plant that will cascade,” Fowler said.
One type to avoid in the baskets is the marigold flower, she added. They are durable, but the dying flower heads require removal in order to keep the plant blooming.
“People like to see balance, color, and contrast,” Fowler said. “It really comes down to your personal tastes.”
The city requires businesses to use potting soil with moisture beads, so that the plants don’t dry out.
For more information about the contest, contact Howard Lake City Hall at (320) 543-3670.