Red Wing celebrates 25 years of flower baskets this spring, but did you know the baskets started as boxes? The community experimented with metal flower boxes - a few of them remain at the corner of Plum and Third Streets - as a beautification project in 1989. The idea was to add living color as part of a major improvement project downtown.
But the concept quickly changed after Kiwanian and professional photographer Phil Revoir returned from a trip to the famous Victoria Gardens in British Columbia where he could see in his mind's eye large baskets adorning Red Wing's new light poles. His enthusiasm fired director Henry Sorenson's imagination, and the Public Works Department leader turned to B ob Lewis of Sargent's Nursery, who designed the first of what became Red Wing's signature moss baskets.
City crews hung 24 baskets in the La Grange Park area the spring of 1990. The response was overwhelming and demand for baskets spread. There were 202 baskets for 1991, and Hallstrom's Greenhouse and Sargent's have shared int he planting ever since.
Noontime Kiwanis was the sponsor and fiscal agent from the start, with a 50-50 percent financial partnership with the City of Red Wing until 2004. Today, no tax dollars go toward flower basket expenses; Kiwanians have full responsibility for raising funds for everything from the seeds to the fertilizer and the summer city interns who water the baskets.
No one living in Red Wing or visiting our beautiful city can imagine the downtown without flower baskets. The 2016 Noontime Kiwanis Flower Basket Program Update reports; "We are excited to start a new year with 2016 and working with our many partners. Obviously 2016 brings a challenge with the Main Street road project going on but this will be a minor bump in the road (no pun intended) for the flower basket program. There will be 202 flower baskets for 2016 compared to 238 in 2015. The reduction of 58 flower baskets is as a direct result of the road construction project but other areas were identified to place 22 of the lost flower baskets, otherwise the locations where there were flower baskets in 2015 will be the same for 2016." Click here to view a complete copy of this report.
The Red Wing Noontime Kiwanis invite you to help keep the tradition blooming. Tax deductible donations may be made to the Red Wing Kiwanis Foundation-Flower Basket Trust. For more information or for a donation form, click the flower basket picture above.
16" Wire baskets with added wire for strength come from:
Topiary Art Works and Greenhouses / Phone: 316.584.2366
PO Box 574, Clearwater, Kansas 67026
Aluminum pans were custom made by:
Acme Metal Spinning, Inc.
98 43rd Avenue North East, Minneapolis, MN 55421
Phone # 612-788-9051
Thomas Betts Corp of Hager City, Wi. made the hanging brackets, and painted the brackets and baskets.
Local greenhouses* start seeding in January, then transfer seedlings to the baskets in mid-March. Baskets are typically set out the third week of May and are removed the third week of September
* Hallstrom's Florist (Dave Hallstrom) 651.388.7178
* Sargent's Nursery, Inc. (Bob Lewis) 651.388.3847
Flower baskets are made up of a variety of plants, including: Calibrachoa "Superbells Yellow", Ivy Geranium "Blizzard Blue", Ivy Geranium "Blizzard Pink", Ivy Geranium "Bright Cascade", Petunia "Surfinia Red", Petunia "Surfinia Sky Blue", Petunia "Supertunia Mini-Purple", Petunia "Supertunia Mini-Bright Pink", Petunia "Supertunia Lemoncello", Petunia "Supertunia Bermuda Beach", Petunia "Supertunia White"
Ten to 12 volunteers give their time to help water the baskets throughtout the summer. Baskets are watered daily because the soilless potting mix used requires. City water is diluted with water-soluble fertilizer for every watering. Approximately 500 gallons of water is used to water the flower baskets. This is down from the 1,000 gallons used before the City began using a water reclamation program.