Carthage in Bloom

We hope that the beautiful plantings will demonstrate the pride we have in our city and encourage visitors to enjoy our city and stay longer.

By Kathleen Swift

Drive around the Jasper County courthouse in Carthage, Missouri, and you’ll notice beautiful drifts of red, white and blue annuals lining the sidewalks leading into the courthouse. The new flower beds are a result of the efforts of the Vision Carthage Committee.

Abi Almandinger, the volunteer coordinator for the program, said, “This is part of an effort to brighten up an already-beautiful city. The original vision was to beautify the downtown and the city as a whole. Three years ago, Restoration Carthage, a subcommittee of Vision Carthage, began with the idea of beautifying the city blocks that are on the Maple Leaf Parade route. That idea gained momentum.”

Carthage in Bloom is associated with a national program called America in Bloom. Their mission is to encourage the use of flowers, shrubs, trees and other environmental and lifestyle-friendly enhancements to bring communities together to work on a common goal.

“Bryan Stringer spearheaded the Carthage in Bloom idea,” said Almandinger. “We started with a few workdays with Bryan lending us his knowledge about flowers, planting, seasons and colors. We know that flowers make a space warm and inviting and bring intangible benefits to our city. We hope that the beautiful plantings will demonstrate the pride we have in our city and encourage visitors to enjoy our city and stay longer.”

The group began by focusing on some key sites in the city for the first plantings.

“Bryan had the vision,” she said. “Although the courthouse is a county building, it sits in the middle of the square, and it was naturally chosen for our first efforts. The YMCA reached out to us and wanted to be a flagship partner. We are also working with the Carthage Public Library, which already had the basis of a beautiful garden area.”

Carthage in Bloom received grants to install irrigation systems to ensure the plants are maintained. “Before we had the irrigation systems, we had no nearby water source for watering the plants, and the volunteers had to drag hoses to water the flowers every day and sometimes twice a day,” she said. “Many community members volunteer to plant and maintain the annual flower beds, and the group has received support from several other organizations in the community as well.”

Carthage in Bloom has the continued goal of expanding the use of colorful flowers in other areas of the city.

“We hope to beautify other public places in our city such as the Chamber of Commerce, Memorial Hall or the Carthage Police Department. The feedback to the project so far has been phenomenal. People have commented on how beautiful it looks.

“Our volunteers are a great group of people, and we hope more people will want to participate. We make it easy by using the Remind app. If you want to volunteer, we add you to our Remind group and when we have a work day, volunteers get a text message about where and when to meet. I’ve found it a great way to work together with my kids. We learn how things grow and get to work with others to make our community beautiful. It’s been a great project.

If you would like to volunteer or would like more information, contact Abi Almandinger at 417.793.6589, or go to the Vision Carthage Facebook page and check out Carthage in Bloom.