Uptown flowers carry on a tradition

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Jennifer Howland is carrying on the tradition of decorating the uptown Hillsboro area with flowers that was started by her father, Buck Wilkin, more than a decade ago.

“It was something that my father had started with Alice Wilson, and he passed away, so we just kind of kept it going,” said Howland.

Howland works with Mark Wilson, Alison Wilson and Jenny Hart to plant and maintain the flowers each year, with help from others from time time.

“We do the planters and the baskets,” said Howland. “We plant them about mid-May, and we get them all hung up and we water them in the golf cart all around town.”

She said there are seven large wooden planters and many hanging flowers that cover the first block in all four directions from the center of town. “This year we did some petunias in the hanging baskets and just kind of a variety,” she said.

“We get the flowers down at Picket Run from the Amish, and Mark and Alice decide on the color scheme,” said Howland.

The group also maintains the flowers in the fountain area in uptown Hillsboro.

“Everyone always asks how they get so big, and we fertilize a couple times during the summer, and then we just water as needed like when it’s been really hot, they are watered every day,” said Howland. “We just check on them every day or every other day.”

She said recently trash has been put in some of the flower baskets, and some of them have been stolen. “We’ve never had that problem until this year,” she said.

Howland said the flower project started small and has grown bigger and bigger.

She said the large planters we made a few years ago by Hillsboro High School. “People come from all around and say, ‘I love the flowers,” she said. “We just want to keep making the town look beautiful.”

She said the flowers will be taken down in the middle of September.

In a letter to the editor this week, Leesburg resident Richard Edwards wrote: “I think Hillsboro should be commended for its outstandingly beautiful hanging lamppost baskets and street planters. Of course, the beautiful courthouse fountain and the beautiful landscaping around it and the courthouse, plus the town itself, are such an attraction that I try to drive through town every chance I get.

“Having been an employee of Kaufman’s Clothing Store during the 1960s and ’70s in Hillsboro, I gained such a respect for the kind folk of the community. It makes me feel good about Hillsboro, our Highland County seat, to see it looking so good.”

Donations to the Buck Wilkin Flower Fund in support of maintaining the flowers can be made at NCB Bank in Hillsboro.

Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.

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