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Gretchen Boldt of Hilltop Greenhouse and Farm near Hollandale, talks about her part in the arranging the downtown flower arrangements during a press conference Tuesday at the Hardy Geranium. -- Eric Johnson
Gretchen Boldt of Hilltop Greenhouse and Farm near Hollandale, talks about her part in the arranging the downtown flower arrangements during a press conference Tuesday at the Hardy Geranium. -- Eric Johnson

Focus on flowers: City heading into 20th year of outdoor floral arrangements

Published 10:29am Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The bone-chilling cold may be on its way to Austin, but city officials and florists are again thinking about spring flowers.

The city of Austin is taking donations for the 20th year of its downtown floral arrangements. The well-known floral arrangements along roadways and sidewalks please business owners like Steve Davis of Steve’s Pizza, and city officials such as Mayor Tom Stiehm and former mayor Bonnie Rietz.

“That’s one of the things people always mention when people come to town,” Stiehm said, who is a little reminded of Rushford, Minn., by the arrangements.

Rietz has been a longtime advocate of the program, meeting with others at Vicki Trimble’s Hardy Geranium in Austin each year to announce the flowers will return.

“This is our 20th year; I can’t believe it,” Rietz said on Tuesday.

When the program started 20 years ago, there were 116 flower baskets. In 2001, the program hit its peak with 411 baskets. For the past several years and for next year, organizers have kept a happy medium of 240 baskets. With that set, each year the city of Austin puts $10,000 toward the goal, while Hormel Foods Corp. also pitches in $10,000. The city then asks for the community to help match $20,000. The $40,000 fund combines to purchase all the flowers, pots and maintenance for the season.

Gretchen Boldt of Hilltop Greenhouse and Farm near Hollandale agreed to start the flowers again for this year’s arrangements.

“It’s been a pleasure working with the city,” Boldt said. “We enjoy it so much.”

Supporters can make donations to the city of Austin, addressed to Tom Dankert, 500 Fourth Ave. NE, Austin, MN 55912, and write Flowers 2014 on the memo line. Officials hope for donations by January.


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