SCRANTON — A new gardening contest sprouted in the city.
Hill Section green-thumb Carol Deeley started the contest, Scranton in Bloom, as a friendly, neighborhood competition to find the prettiest front gardens or yards in the city.
A native of England, Deeley and her husband, Carl, also lived in North Carolina, Australia and California before putting down roots in Scranton in 2018. Carl Deeley currently is the business administrator of the city of Scranton.
Upon settling in Scranton, Carol almost immediately became a volunteer with the Greenhouse Project at Nay Aug Park.
She draws upon her familiarity with English gardens for landscaping design elements at her home at 711 N. Webster Ave., and as inspiration for the Scranton in Bloom contest.
“When we were in England, the villages all had these competitions and it was all for the accolade, not money. It was for the pride of just having the best garden, and I said, ‘I should do it in Scranton,’” Carol Deeley said.
She grew up near industrial Birmingham, England, where family members participated in garden “allotments,” which were akin to community supported agriculture CSA plots.
“My father, grandfather and uncle all had their own allotment, like a CSA, because where I grew up the ground was terrible” for growing, she said. Her uncle, a champion fuchsia grower, and her father also grew chrysanthemums.
Gardening lessons learned, including how to prune a rose, have stayed with her.
In her front garden in Scranton, the bloom is not yet on the rose or the perennials. But pink azaleas and a white dogwood tree in the backyard have blossomed.
Deeley put the focus for Scranton in Bloom on front yards because during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, her gardening and landscaping in her front garden provided welcome interaction with neighbors.
“I found that just working in my front garden, I was able to stay connected to so many more people,” Deeley said. “People stop and talk and connect with neighbors, just by doing gardening.”
Jane Risse, director of the Greenhouse Project at Nay Aug Park, which is one of the sponsors of the Scranton in Bloom contest, said it could not only boost neighborhood streetscapes, but also spur neighborly exchanges between residents.
“We thought it was the perfect partnership and a fit to help out,” Risse said of the contest. “We certainly hope folks would come here (to the greenhouse at Nay Aug Park) to buy some flowers and perennials if they like, but the real goal is to encourage people to get out and beautify their yards and gardens and get to know each other.”
With two categories of People’s Choice and Judges’ Choice, the contest has a nomination period that began Saturday and runs through June 11. Voting will take place June 21-25. Winners will be announced June 26 and a presentation will be made June 27.
For information and guidelines on nominations and voting, see the Scranton in Bloom website at scrantoninbloom.webador.com.
Residents who may not have a front yard also can compete, by filling a porch with hanging basket and pots, the Scranton in Bloom page on Facebook says.
A reporter for more than two decades, Jim Lockwood covers Scranton for The Times-Tribune, which he joined in 2011 after working at newspapers in New Jersey. His 2012 reporting of Scranton’s deepening financial crisis garnered him a statewide first-place award for news beat coverage in the Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association’s Keystone Press Awards. He also won the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association’s Public Notice Journalism Award in multiple years plus national journalism awards from The Public Notice Resource Center, including a first-place win in 2015, and a second-place showing in 2017. Married with three children, Jim lives in Pike County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 570-348-9100, x5185.