On any other day, drivers would moan if a lane of busy HIlliard Boulevard is closed. But on Saturday, May 18, a lane closing brought smiles as dozens of people poured out of cars, unloaded hundreds of flowers from their trunks and back seats and got busy planting.

The day marked the start of Westlake in Bloom, the city's popular community beautification program. The city blocked off a lane of Hilliard to allow gardeners to park while they created their garden boxes on the boulevard’s median.

While the day began with showers and "iffy" weather, by 10:30 a.m. the sun was out and so were the gardeners. Among them were Noreen and Ron Hollo, who waited two years for a garden box to become available. It is dedicated to their daughter, Alison, who died in 2017.

"This is so her," said her mom, adding their daughter also loved to plant flowers.

The Hollos live in Avon Lake but have close ties to Westlake, where they lived for 18 years and where Noreen taught at St. Bernadette School on Clague Road for 31 years.

Garden boxes are set into the median along Hilliard between the Rocky River border and Dover Center Road.

All along the stretch, couples, neighbors, families with young children and groups created colorful gardens.

Near the other end of HIlliard, Jim and Kathy Porcella were strategizing about placement of geraniums in their garden box. He owns Westlake-based Secure Line Systems. They have participated annually since the inception of Westlake in Bloom in 2004. They won in their division that year.

Besides the garden boxes along HIlliard, residents and businesses are encouraged to enter their gardens into the contest. There are 18 categories ranging from small front yards to entire large yards, shade gardens, rain gardens, window boxes and patios with abutting gardens.

Businesses, houses of worship, apartment and condominium entrances, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities are eligible to enter, too. The top three entries in each category earn recognition and many winners display city-provided placards in their gardens. The city will publish photos and the names of first place winners on its website and in the city’s annual Westlake Magazine.

All residents and businesses can participate. Entry is free. Forms can be obtained at several municipal buildings and local nurseries. They also can be downloaded from cityofwestlake.org/DocumentCenter/View/7057/2019-Bloom-Entry-Form-and-Rules

Entries must be received by Friday, June 28. Judges will view each entry July 8-10. An appreciation reception for anyone who enters the contest can attend will be held at LaCENTRE Conference and Banquet Facility, Thursday, Aug. 8, when winners are announced.

For more information, visit: cityofwestlake.org/588/Westlake-in-Bloom

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