Jesse Gilbertson – U City in Bloom

jesse-gilbertsonAt a recent GPHA (Gateway Professional Horticulturist Association) meeting, Jesse Gilbertson, who is the Horticulture Director for U City in Bloom, talked to us about what the group has been doing for the last thirty years. If he does this again, I’d encourage you to attend. It’s a great program for groups trying to put in gardens for a city. Here are a few notes from that presentation.

  • Mission Statement – Our mission is to enhance and beautify our community through public gardens, community partnerships, citizen involvement and environmental education.
  • 114 containers – 76 hanging baskets, 8 school properties, 115 – garden beds and 64 gardens -some big some small.
  • It’s a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
  • He doesn’t put in any new garden without a water source. Find money to get irrigation – at least a spigot.
  • On some of the front beds, they are all annuals. “Eyecandy.”
  • Depending on the bed, he uses a mix of annuals, perennials, cultivars,  natives etc. He gets some criticism for using some non-native plants.
  • Recommends the book – Parks, Plants, and People: Beautifying the Urban Landscape by Lynden Miller (Tom has this book.)
  • Talks about developing wildlife corridors.
  • They do have a water “truck” to water containers.
  • They work with Forestry and Parks Department and ask for help when needed.
  • Raising Money is a big part of what they do.
  • Plant Sales – they get plants from residents gardens and re-pot them up for sale.
  • Garden Tour
  • Donations and Grants
  • Ask for free plants from nursery.
  • He also asks June Hutson – MoBot for divisions of certain plants.
  • Some money from the city and the school district.
  • They have about 200 volunteers all together –  12 to 15 which volunteer on a regular basis in the beds. They also look for volunteer groups – companies?
  • Total revenue is about $160,000.
  • Have signs on all of their beds.
  • They do have events in some of their gardens with other organizations.
  • They don’t use Preen or landscape fabric.
  • Median – they put in water lines/irrigation, but have to watch for not blocking car sight lines.
  • They try to create a Bouquet theme – lots of different flowers and color.
  •  He went through a list of plants that he likes – here is the link from his blog.
  • He uses  wholesale plant sources
    He also use local nurseries.
  • He uses a lot of Calamentha nepeta – catnip.
  • They use a lot of Hardy Hibiscus.
  • New England Aster – October Skies
  • They send out a paper newsletter every year and also use a lot of social media.
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