Flower gals (and a few guys) keep Austin in blooms

Published 11:24 am Saturday, September 9, 2017

When Cristina Wradislavsky first took the job as a flower girl, she probably didn’t realize the labor it look to water the blooms that beautify Austin all summer.

“They (the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department) needed help and I thought, I like the outdoors,” she said. She began the job in late July. Oh, and by the way — there are flower guys, too.

Driving a small cart with water and a ladder, Wradislavsky gets out, climbs the ladder, waters the hanging baskets of purple, pink and white petunias, climbs down the ladder, and then sprays the nearby planters. Planters have a mix of blooms and greenery. She will also weed out some old growth when needed.

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And, she does this at least 120 times a day. “I split the route (with another worker); there are about 240 (baskets and planters),” she said. And, on particularly hot and windy days, she may be asked to do the route a second time. In other words — no need to exercise with stair-climbers in her household.

Wradislavsky is one of several park and recreation department employees who work seasonally to water the plants in Austin.

“I have found that I have definitely built my glutes,” she said with a laugh.

“This isn’t for the fragile.” She probably has learned a lot about water and plants; she knows that under wa- tering is OK; over-wa-tering, she said, “means no recuperation.” Wradislavsky said her job gains comments from her 8-year-old son. “We’ll be riding down the street, and he’ll point to the flowers and go, ‘Mom, did you do that one? That one?’” she said with a chuckle.

The hanging baskets tend to stay healthier than the sidewalk plant- ersthat,unfortunately, are more affected by weather and passers-by, who sometimes put trash in the containers. But that doesn’t seem to happen often, and Wradislavsky believes that the flowers are a definite plus for Austin.

“I think it is a beautiful thing for Austin,” she said. “It shows we careaboutourcity,and we want people to come and see us.”

Park and Recreation Director Kim Underwood agreed. The commitment made by the community to beautify its streets has drawn comment from many quarters.

“I hear it a lot,” Underwood said, referring to officials from other cities. “They say, ‘We’re tired of our people, every time we turn around, asking us, why can’t we be more like Austin?’”