Lisa Maffett danced around the parking lot of the Clip Art Salon, her face lit up with a huge smile when she saw the sign stuck down in the flower bed, proclaiming, “Lexington in Bloom 2016 winner.”
“You’d think I won the lottery, I’m so happy,” said the hair stylist.
Inside the hair salon, client Barbara Sautel said, “She tells everybody who walks in the door, she’s so excited. She loves flowers.”
Clip Art Salon, at 310 West Maxwell Street, shared first place in the small business category in that area of the city with its neighbor across the street, Tinker’s Cake Shop, at 317 West Maxwell, owned by Cameron and Tracie Tinker.
Clip Art and Tinker’s are two of 26 winners in the 2016 Lexington in Bloom, a beautification competition sponsored by the Lexington Council Garden Clubs.
More than 250 gardens were nominated, 100 more than in 2014, said Liz Pattengill, chairwoman of Lexington in Bloom. She credits part of the increase to the convenience of an online entry form.
Lexington in Bloom winners will be recognized at a public reception from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the Dorotha Oatts Visitors Center at The Arboretum, 500 Alumni Drive.
Winning gardens came in a variety of categories, including residential gardens by amateur gardeners, residential by professional designers; large and small business gardens and a miscellaneous category.
The miscellaneous category received 30 entries, the most ever. Eligible were Monarch butterfly way stations, community gardens, school gardens, vegetable gardens, window boxes, neighborhood entrances, plantings around mailboxes, and gardens in very small spaces, such as the strip between the sidewalk and the curb.
All gardens had to be visible from the street.
The city was divided into four sections, with a winner and sometimes runners-up and honorable mentions in each category. Gardens were judged last week. Winners were notified over the weekend.
Lexington in Bloom signs were placed Monday in all 26 first-place gardens for easy identification.
Clip Art and Tinker’s demonstrate that you can bloom wherever you’re planted, Pattengill said. The owners were not deterred by their urban setting, three blocks from Main Street and surrounded with asphalt and concrete.
The Tinkers, a husband-and-wife business team, each with an extensive background in baking, moved Tinker’s Cake Shop to Maxwell Street six years ago. Their specialty is wedding cakes. They have their bakery on the first floor and live on the second.
“The front of the houses is shaded until late afternoon,” Cameron said. “It was a learning process the first couple of years to see what would do well with the light situation.”
The Tinkers brought the same artistic flair to selecting flowers as they employ in creating one-of-a-kind cakes. For maximum visual impact, they stuck to one color scheme — pink, purple and chartreuse — and relied heavily on the same plant materials of hydrangeas, petunias, hostas and sweet potato vines. The display is uncluttered, colorful and eye-catching.
Across the street at Clip Art, Maffett and her business partner, Donna Barber, have clipped, curled and colored hair for 34 years. Like the Tinkers, they have used their tiny spaces to full advantage. Perennials including peonies, iris, phlox, coreopsis and baptisia make up a fun-loving crowd in a raised bed on the west side of the house. Three large chartreuse Amsonia hubrichtii fill a bed on the other side. Colorful summer annuals spill out of window boxes.
Everything they plant has to be pretty self-sufficient, Maffett said. “We work all the time. We don’t have a lot of time to take care of flowers.”
Even with limited space, the look changes from year to year.
“This spring, we added Queen of the Night tulips and peony tulips and staggered those bloom times with allium. It was quite a sight,” Maffett said. Self-sowing cleome find plenty of places to squeeze in later in the summer.
When clients pull into the Clip Art parking lot, the first thing they see are plants. Maffett said she wants the flowers for inspiration, for people to see “what plants can do for their lives.”
Maffett is a pass-along person, receiving and sharing plants. The baptisia came from client Mary Liebermann’s mother, Agnes Wilford, now 93.
“Thirty years ago, I went to Mary’s house, and her mother gave me a start of baptisia,” Maffett said. She, in turn, has given starts to more people than she can remember.
Maffett is delighted that the Tinkers moved in across the street. “Before them, we didn’t have anybody along this end of Maxwell who planted things,” she said.
Beverly Fortune is a former Herald-Leader reporter. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 859-948-7846.
Lexington in Bloom winners
Residence, amateur design: Joseph Uecker and Brian Estes, 244 Larch Lane.
Miscellaneous: Meadowthorpe Neighborhood Association for neighborhood entrance, Boiling Springs Drive and Leestown Road and Vicki Reed, butterfly and rain garden, 1717 Palmyra Avenue. (tie)
Residence, amateur design: James and Sharon Reed, 226 West Second Street.
Residence, professional design: Joseph Hillenmeyer, 10 Richmond Avenue.
Business, small: Becker Brothers, LLC, 115 Walton Avenue.
Municipal display: LFUCG Division of Parks and Recreation, planters and hanging baskets downtown.
Miscellaneous: Christ Church Cathedral, 177 North Upper Street, pocket garden.
Residence, amateur design: Linda and Douglas Donald, 1104 Tanbark Drive.
Joseph Dietz and Timothy Brooks, 867 Edgewater Drive. (tie)
Runner-up: Joseph Clark, 216 Clay Avenue.
Honorable mention: Nazir Shalash, 3421 Heritage Place. Clifford and Louise Winter, 3436 Simcoe Court. (tie)
Residence, professional design runner-up: Alice and Lucian Dearborn, 338 Blueberry Road.
Runner-ups: Gary and Clair Detraz, 202 Woodspoint Road
Business, small: YMCA of Central Kentucky, 239 East High Street, planter and espaliered fruit trees.
Miscellaneous: Woodland Triangle Median where East High, East Maxwell and Kentucky Avenue meet, designed and planted by John Michler.
Mike and Jamie Franklin, 353 Glendover Road, windowboxes.
Betty Hall, 224 Leawood Drive, native plantings.
Craig and Jenny Fowler, 3153 Warrenwood Wynd, mailbox planting.
Runners-up: Jimmy and Susan Queen, 349 Angela Court.
Hanover Tower Condominiums, 101 South Hanover, triangle bed planting.
Runner-ups: Gary and Clair Detraz, 202 Woodspoint Road
Residence, amateur: Joe Miller and Susan Daole, 141 Goodrich Avenue.
Runner-up: Donald and Sharron Wright, 721 Cromwell Way.
Honorable mention: Johnetta Childress, 728 Longwood Drive.
Residence, professional design: Eric and Catherine Sauvage, 1241 Birmingham Lane.
Runner-up: Georgia Rodes, 966 Mason Headley Road.
Business, large: Stonestreet Farm, 3530 Old Frankfort Pike.
Runner-up: Saint Joseph Hospital/KyOneHealth, One St. Joseph Drive.
Business, small: Clip Art Salon, Lisa Maffett and Donna Barber, 310 West Maxwell Street. Tinker’s Cake Shop, Cameron and Tracie Tinker, 317 West Maxwell Street. (tie)
Runners-up: Clean Sweep Car Wash, 550 South Broadway. Teknique in Hair, Pat Corbett, 405 Southland Drive. (tie)
Miscellaneous: Pollinator Garden at Wellington Park, 565 Wellington Way.
Bill Todd and Greg Stratton, 128 Old Towne Walk, window boxes.
Townley Park Home Owners Association, Leestown Road, flower beds behind Applebee’s.
Community Montessori School, 725 Stone Road, rain garden.
Helen Carter and Niel Morrison, 571 Mitchell Avenue, Monarch waystation.
Runners-up: Geoffrey and Sally Heath, 4060 Peppertree Drive, window boxes.
Woodward Heights Neighborhood Association, entrances at Madison Place and Merino on High Street.
The Colony Neighborhood Association, Versailles Road, wetland inside entrance.
Honorable mention: Roger Maybrier and Rebecca Kuchenbrod, 126 Venice Park, window boxes.