Last week was Communities in Bloom week in Merrickville-Wolford, as proclaimed by council at their last meeting. Communities in Bloom (CiB) week is spearheaded by the national CiB organization to recognize and celebrate the benefits derived from CiB and the countless volunteers that make the communities involved great places to live.
CiB has a long history in Merrickville-Wolford, having been dubbed Canada’s prettiest village and the “Jewel of the Rideau” by the organization in 1998. In 2016, after a long hiatus, several community members decided to revive CiB in the municipality and enter the competition once again.
Last year, Merrickville-Wolford did very well, earning five blooms and bronze standing in the competition. Although they did not win the top spot in their category, they did earn an honourable mention for their multi-generational committee. This year, the committee has rebranded itself as Merrickville-Wolford in Bloom, and is spearheading many initiatives to help the Village get ready for judging in July. They have partnered with Scott’s Miracle Grow to run a best garden competition, and Home Hardware for the Canada’s best backyard competition. They will also be featuring a garden of the month in the North Grenville Times and Merrickville Pheonix in June, July and August.
Merrickville-Wolford in Bloom will be celebrating National Garden Day on June 16, putting out a call out to all residents to help with planting throughout the municipality. They also plan on running gardening activities and workshops throughout Garden Days Week, from June 16-24.
Although a lot of the focus will be on gardening over the next few months, Merrickville-Wolford in Bloom Chair, Christopher Scullino, stresses that the CiB competition is about more than just flowers. “It’s about quality of life,” he says. “Things like urban forestry, invasive species, and heritage areas and promoting them.”
Chris says Merrickville-Wolford is unique, because it is located on a UNESCO World Heritage site. It also has both urban and rural parts to the municipality, which is something that most municipalities of its size doesn’t offer. Not only will the judges be spending time strolling through the Village, they will also be visiting Eastons Corners and touring the rural area. “We would love to have some people from Wolford on the committee, to let us know what they want to see,” Chris says.
Doing well in the competition will do nothing but benefit the municipality. Tourism rose in 1998 when they gained recognition as Canada’s prettiest village, and there are people that base their Canadian travels around who has received the most blooms. “It’s sometimes a deciding factor when people are deciding whether to move to a municipality,” Chris says.
This year, the committee is focussing a lot of community involvement through all the contests they are facilitating, and through general outreach. The goal is for the CiB competition to be a community-wide initiative, where everyone plays a role. “As we prepare for judging in the Communities in Bloom competition, we need the help of every business, every group, and every neighbour, to ensure we do ourselves proud,” Chris says.
The judges will be in Merrickville-Wolford for a tour on July 17,18 and 19. Merrickville-Wolford is competing in the 1,501-5,000 population category, along with Prescott, Hanna, Alberta, and Madawaska Valley, Ontario. Judges in this category are retired teacher and horticulturalist, Lorna McIlroy, from Grand Prairie, Alberta, and garden writer, Radio-Canada journalist and published author, Gaétan Cheschênes, from Saint-Basile-le-Grand, Quebec.
For more information on how you can participate, or to find out more about Merrickville-Wolford’s participation in Communities in Bloom, please contact Merrickville-Wolford in Bloom at [email protected], or visit www.merrickvillecib.com.