All posts by Linda Ballard

U City in Bloom Volunteers


U City in Bloom was at its inception in 1985 an all-volunteer group. Three years ago, UCB’s success and growth lead to transitioning to an organization under the direction of a Board of Directors.  The Board employs a part-time Executive Director and a full-time Horticultural Director with two full-time staff.  Our Board members bring expertise in finance, law, fundraising, social media, and journalism to the table.  Several are certified Master Gardeners.  They are all volunteers and volunteers are still the heart of U City in Bloom.  Without support from hundreds of volunteers, U City in Bloom’s work could not be done. 

Some volunteer jobs involve working in the gardens, but not all do – there is something to fit your interests, skills, and activity level.  Here is just a partial list of volunteer opportunities with U City in Bloom:

  • Work with Horticulturalist Jesse Gilbertson and his terrific staff in our gardens Monday – Friday throughout the year.  Jesse posts an email telling volunteers where they will be needed prior to the start of each work day.  Join his email list to receive notifications and show up when you can; no prior notice is necessary.
  • Do you work full-time during the week, but still would love to help in the gardens?  During the growing season, occasional Saturday morning workdays are also planned.
  • U City in Bloom maintains vegetable gardens at our public schools which teach students about nature, where our food comes from and how it grows, and what constitutes a healthy diet.  UCB founder Mary Ann Shaw is in charge of this important educational initiative and would love help on their work days with the children in the gardens.
  • Volunteer to be responsible for watering a specific garden or two as needed in dry weather. 
  • Once a year the Loop planters are filled with annuals, and later greenery and ribbons bedeck them for the winter holiday season.  These two projects are an early morning blitz to get the work done before Delmar gets busy with traffic.
  • Join the hardy souls dividing perennial plants and potting them up for sale at our Annual Plant Sale in April.  Work begins as soon as plants begin to emerge in the early spring and is done in (almost) all weathers.  Volunteers work at the Mary Fahey Pavilion at the Vernon Nursery, and those with strong backs can also help dig up donated plants from donors’ gardens.  Linda Fried leads this important project.
  • The Annual Plant Sale is a big push and major fundraiser.  It’s held on the last full weekend in April and begins early Friday morning bringing the potted plants over from the Vernon Nursery and setting them up in the Heman Park Community Center.  Later that afternoon, we prepare for the Preview Party which is held that evening.  At the party, and during Saturday and Sunday sale hours, we need people to tote up the prices of customers’ selections, cashiers to take their money, people behind the tables of plants refreshing them with more pots as plants are sold, and a clean-up crew.  No prior experience necessary!
  • Another fundraiser is held in the fall.  In 2017, this will be our biennial U City in Bloom Garden Tour on Sunday, September 24.  If you think you would like to be on the Planning Committee, it involves committing to a monthly meeting during the months preceding the Tour.  We need a new volunteer coordinator this year.  If this is a special skill of yours, we’d love to hear from you!  On the day of the Tour, we need people to be hosts in the gardens, to set up the closing reception at City Hall, and to help clean up afterwards.

In return for your volunteer help you will make wonderful new friends, learn gardening skills from experts, and have the satisfaction of bringing beauty to our city.  Take the first step in volunteering by registering here.

U City in Bloom’s Plein Air Event

Artist at UCB Plein Air eventThe weather was perfect for U City in Bloom’s Plein Air Competition and Reception on Sunday, September 18.  Thirty artists checked at Centennial Commons early that morning then fanned out across the designated locations, set up their easels, and got down to business.  Many found the fountain in Heman Park, just steps away from where they checked in, appealing, while others enjoyed the butterflies and flowers filling the nearby Bird Habitat Garden.  Several were drawn to the iconic lions in front of City Hall and the “Fish on a Bicycle” sculpture in Lewis Park.  One enterprising person planted herself in the roundabout to paint the view of the Loop down Delmar from that perspective.  The finished creations were judged by Michael Lucas, Anne Murphy, and Elinor Ruder at 4 PM.  Guests arrived at 6 PM to view the artwork, enjoy food and drink, and bid on an appealing array of items in a silent auction.  At least four of the day’s artworks went home with attendees.

First place winner, Allen Kriegshauser, second place winner, Mary Dee Schmidt, and third place winner, Margaret von Kaenel, will exhibit the work created at the competition along with other examples of their creativity in The Gallery of the University City Public Library.  Xu Zhen, who cleverly depicted Continue reading U City in Bloom’s Plein Air Event