If you've noticed some of your neighbors' front gardens looking extraordinarily well kept recently, there could be a reason.
Winners were chosen last week for the Lexington in Bloom 2010 contest, a garden competition that's back for the first time since 2002. (See the list of winners on Page B2.)
Designed to encourage residents and business owners to bring a bit of extra color, texture, shine and manicure to their front-yard landscapes, the contest was sponsored by the Lexington Council Garden Clubs.
Members said they brought back the contest to help create a welcoming atmosphere for visitors to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. The horse competition is Sept. 25 to Oct. 10 at the Kentucky Horse Park.
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The contest's goals were "to instill a spirit of community, to increase civic pride and to improve the visual appeal of Lexington through the imaginative use of flowers, plants and trees."
From the more than 300 entries, judges picked about 30 winners. Fayette County was partitioned into four quadrants, with winners selected in each.
Winners include a varieties of gardens, from the stately entrance to the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa on Newtown Pike, which surely will be seen and appreciated by many Horse Park visitors, to cheery, color-filled window boxes at downtown restaurants including deSha's and Horse & Barrel.
More reserved residential settings feature shady gardens like Ayten Aleem's home on Cahaba Road, where glass lamp globes in the form of pineapples, the traditional American hospitality symbol, shine to welcome guests.
Debra Hensley Insurance on Nicholasville Road gained points with judges by growing a community vegetable garden. Hensley said she wanted to soften the harsh atmosphere along the road. "Banana peppers are in — help yourself," she said. "This garden is for anyone who walks by."
In the Willow Bend subdivision, Lance Farney's perfectly proportioned landscape is a multifaceted, emerald-green work of art on a street lined with cookie-cutter homes.
"I like to be outside watering the garden in the evenings when my neighbors are out walking their dogs," he said. "They tell me my garden just gets prettier and prettier. It makes me feel good to know people get enjoyment from it."
Each winner receives a certificate, yard markers and a concrete rabbit statue from the Wallis House in Paris, headquarters of the Garden Club of Kentucky Inc. The awards will be presented at 2 p.m. Sunday at The Arboretum, 500 Alumni Drive. The reception is free.
Lexington in Bloom coordinator Liz Pattengill involved members from the nine garden clubs in the Lexington council: Fayette Rose & Garden, Hoe 'n Hope, Gardenside Green Thumb, Rafinesque, Gardening Angels, Lexington Women's Club Garden Department, Chilesburg, Soil Mates and Down to Earth.
And anyone can share the best prize that the contest has to offer by taking a self-guided tour to see the winning entries. Perhaps you'll catch a gardener outside, weeding and watering.