Communities in Bloom 2002
October 2 - 5, 2002
Kelowna, B.C.


Kelowna did an outstanding job of providing a venue that was conducive to a Communities in Bloom event. Everywhere you looked, you would see flags waving announcing the event and the city was ready for it.

The official flower of the 2002 Kelowna Communities in Bloom National Awards is the Okanagan Sun Flower – Balsamorhiza Sagittata. Seen on warm dry hillsides throughout the Ponderosa pine zone, it is a very important food of the Interior First Nations people as all parts are edible.

The 2002 National Symposium on Parks and Grounds started on October 2nd, with a huge slate of speakers. They spoke on everything from integrated pest management to landscape to tourism.

Following is our day to day diary…we were only there from the 4th to the 5th.

You will see in the first 6 pictures, the beautiful mountains that separate Alberta from B.C. These mountains are very normal to us, but I wanted to include them because not everyone has seen them. You will see some at the end of this as well as these are coming back through Banff. The first ones are us coming through Jasper. Tom wanted a picture of me driving because that is very rare indeed as my family will attest to. The first shot is us approaching Jasper at around 8 a.m. just as the sun started shining on the tops. I was surprised this trip because all the animals we saw were just elk and sheep. Look at the colour in the hills – it was so pretty with the trees changing.

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Friday morning we headed to the Grand to register and get settled in during breakfast. At 8:30 Raymond Carriere, the National Chairman of Communities in Bloom introduced the Mayor, Walter Gray, who then brought Greetings from the City and then introduced their ‘twin’ Obuse, Japan.

You see the picture of Larry Hodgson and I…he looks happy, and I don’t. There is a reason. I just found out that I was speaking to a group of about 350 people and the delegation of 30 was there from Japan. I knew I was speaking and was a bit nervous about that, but gee, speaking in front of 4 or so countries really threw me for a loop. On top of that I had been fighting a head cold that had settled in my sinuses and ears…oh well…grace under pressure. That’s my story and I am sticking with it!

Ed Lawrence spoke on the gardens of the official residences, I spoke on the gardens of England and Europe and Larry spoke on the gardens of Canada…it presented a very nice morning I thought. Then lunch and the keynote speaker, Roger Wheelock from the Canadian Tourism Commission.

The evening was absolute fun!! We split into two groups because there were a lot of us…and both ended up doing the same thing, just in reverse order.

We began at the Laurel Packinghouse, a wonderful old building located in the cultural district. They were showcasing the sounds and tastes of Central Canada and the Maritimes – the music was great, the food great and you could wander around and look at the apple museum and also buy local wines.

Then we walked over to the Rotary Arts Centre, a beautiful new center that had just opened up, I think we were the first group they had. We wandered around this new visual and performing arts center while enjoying music and more food and drink. Then at the end one of the members of the cast of Oklahoma (the show that was coming up) sang a song and it was super!! This new building has walkways around it full of artwork from the area, huge apples, peaches, pears in stone, a long walk featuring all the provinces and their provincial flowers – it was very nice indeed.

Our last stop was the Community Theatre, where we all sat down after a glass of wine, to the community showcase – this night featured all of the participating communities. A wonderful ending to the day…everyone went back to their hotels excited and anxious about tomorrow night’s awards.

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Saturday we headed back to the Grand, looked at all of the displays that were set up from the various communities, checked out the silent auction items, then had breakfast with some of the group and headed out to walk around Kelowna’s beautiful waterfront area. Walking around this gorgeous area I had a chance to take a few pictures. Even though the skies look threatening they only looked that way. The weather was perfect and it didn’t rain on us at all. Tom is standing by the porpoise fountain so you can get an idea of how large it is. I love the shot of the pier with the flowers on one side and the seagull on the other…so serene.

Tom had to meet with a fellow to do some business, I caught him in the act of speaking with him on the phone. We met him at the yacht club there and had a coffee with him…then we met some of his friends and headed back to the club to have lunch.

Now, the next group of pictures were taken inside and although a bit dark, I think you can get an idea of what it was. It was The Day’s of Wine and Roses – a group of garden centers set up garden displays inside the Skyreach Center and you could wander around, see the displays while sipping the various wines from the region. Very well attended and I could have sat and listened to that harp all day. I wanted you to see the urns …there were two of them in metal. Now I have seen many urns in my travels, but I don’t think I have seen them this big in metal. Versailles has them in stone, but these were incredible.

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The following picture of the pool, is the pool at the Grand, from the balcony that we stood on for our receptions…

Time to go back for a nap because the evening was coming up and we wanted to be ready for that…

The National Awards Banquet and Dance – Some Enchanted Evening was the theme for the night…and a beautiful one it was. After a champagne reception we wandered in to the Grand Ballroom. Can you believe it – 850 people there for dinner. They played the most incredible video of Canada while in the background the National Anthem was playing, then a Colour Guard walked in holding the four Countries Flags, then it was time to eat.

The table center pieces were all done by the local garden club. Considering the amount of people there, the service was fast, and very well done. The food was really good, right up to the dessert with flowers on it…

Then the awards themselves…the room was high on anxiety and anticipation and when the winners were announced hoots and hollers rang out. It was so good to see – everyone had worked so hard, each community had such a great story to share.

The ‘Timebenders’ a show and dance band started up shortly after, but we headed back to our room because tomorrow was an early start home.

A very nice weekend, a super project to get involved with and I know there will be lots of interest from communities as this continues to grow.

Look forward to this happening again next year as Stratford, Ontario hosts the next national awards and symposium September 23-28th, 2003. The theme for their event will be ‘ Dramatically Different ‘

We are very proud to be chosen as one of their media partners and hope we can continue to bring Communities In Bloom the exposure it deserves.

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