ASHLAND -- Downtown wayfarers may notice that Ashland's Main Street exhibits a distinct array of color that wasn't evident until this morning.
The Gardens Study Club, partnered with Substance Church, spent the morning adorning the street with floral baskets and planters.
The laborious endeavor brought together around 40 community members at 9 a.m. to beautify the city with 101 hanging baskets and 37 seven planters scattered throughout the downtown sidewalks.
Fuchsia wave petunias overflow each planter and basket, brightening the city with a roseate hue.
“We’ve been doing this for the past five years; since the bicentennial," said Barbara Leddy, member of Ashland's Garden Study Club. "Before that, we didn’t have hanging baskets even though we wanted them for years.
"We couldn’t get the city to water them."
The city raised money during Ashland's bicentennial, which authorized them to afford the hanging baskets. City workers will navigate the baskets and planters early in the morning, tending to the flowers to sustain their alluring demeanor.
Green Valley Growers supplied the petunias. The flowers themselves cost over $7,000.
"They start growing them in February," said Leddy. "That is very nice of them because [the Gardens Study clubs] takes up a lot of space there that they could be using to grow flowers to sell.”
Leddy also spoke about an endowment fund that her and her husband Ron began by reaching out to Jim Cutright, executive director and CEO of the Ashland County Community Foundation.
The Leddys originally planned to contribute the $10,000 needed to establish a new fund with the foundation, but at Cutright's suggestion, and with the blessing of Bicentennial co-chair Rick Spreng, the Leddys decided to pool their money with $100,000 left over from the Bicentennial. The $100,000 had originally been set aside after the Bicentennial celebration in 2015 to pay for future community events, but the money was not being used.
Cutright suggested they repurposed the residual money for floral enhancements. He also challenged the Garden Study Club in December 2019 to raise $100,000 of their own money as well.
“We made a committee, but in the middle of February we suspended the fundraiser because of the virus," said Leddy. "There was money needed for other things, but we had raised $125,000.
"So right now, we have well over $200,000. We never dreamed that this would happen when we started. Ron and I want there to always be flowers downtown, which is why we wanted to set up the endowment.”