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Coming attraction: Communities in Bloom garden tour

Posted on June 28, 2024 by Taber Times

By Cal Braid
Taber Times
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Taber’s Communities in Bloom will present its 7th Annual Yard & Garden Tour on Sat. July 6. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is a self-guided tour of the homes in town that best exemplify the beauty of horticulture.
Communities in Bloom (CIB) operates on the strength of its tour committee of six, and two of the committee members, Geri Reti and Jean Holman, joined President Margaret Rombough to promote the
“We have had people come from Lethbridge, Calgary, and Medicine Hat for our garden tour,” Reti said. “Every year, the attendance has been growing. We feature six to seven yards every year. When people buy their ticket, there’s a list of the yards on the ticket and a map on the back of the ticket. The addresses are all there as well.”
“With their GPS or their phone they can easily find their way. They tour the yards at their leisure, so everybody gathers in the yards and visits and it’s a chance for the homeowners to show off their yards. Really the homeowners don’t get anything out of it except the pleasure of showing their yards and sharing their knowledge and the beauty of their yards with the people who come.
It’s very gratifying.”
“We started out with nothing and the Chamber secretary was the instigator,” said Holman of the early days of CIB. “We got donations– many donations, and we didn’t have any money so we had to do it with donations and donated labour.” Eventually, they went to the Town and after a time were granted $3,000 per year from the Town’s budget.
“That was a fortune at that time,” Holman said. Now, years later, CIB’s contributions to the town’s aesthetic appeal have proven their value to the point of receiving $8,000 for flowers and $2,000 for Christmas per year. Rombough takes delight in the Christmas displays that CIB adorns the town with, and said, “We received a substantial donation from the United Nurses of Alberta this year and we
will be lighting up two more trees in the park based on that donation.”
“Centennial Park is beautiful at Christmastime,” said Reti. “And then you’ve got the manger scene that was donated by Hank DeVlieger.” Holman said it was a scene that would have cost $12,000 retail, but DeVlieger charged CIB only $1,200 for the materials.
CIB is an organization that operates internationally, nationally, provincially and locally, and each local group runs autonomously. Each individual club will plant and maintain its own projects and can then compete in one of the broader categories. The Taber club has won the provincial award three times in row, a feat that only Taber has accomplished. They’ve competed nationally, and did quite well for a community of this size. Rombough explained, “When you compete, you compete in your population category.”
The competitors don’t simply send off a bunch of photos of the year’s most beautiful displays, but are rather judged by an inspector who spends time in town evaluating the overall efforts at beautification.
“It’s the community that is judged,” Rombough said. “It’s not only the flowers. It’s the appearance of the community. We got points for the skate park, and we had nothing to do with the skate park.”
Areas like the parks, the sports field, and the trout pond are all fair game when an outside judge comes in to give the town a once-over for tidiness, upkeep, and attractive plant features. The overall cleanliness of the town is also scrutinized; yards, alleys, garbage, and litter all factor into the grade.
Rombough said, “One of the judges was an arborist. We were deducted points for some dead trees that were down in Legion Park. They’re looking at everything. We lost points one year because around the water treatment plant there were a bunch of weeds that hadn’t been cut. So we really have to work closely with the Town.”
Communities in Bloom is not a department of the Town, though it does receive financial support from the Town to operate independently. The Town’s recreation department cares for and maintains the Town’s parks and recreation facilities, and CIB depends on the Town to do its part every time it enters a
Tickets for the CIB Yard & Garden Tour can be purchased at Pharmasave, Johnson’s Drugs, Sunnyside Nursery, and Green Haven Garden Centre (in Lethbridge, cash
The event is not a fundraiser, and the $20 ticket price goes directly to Luigi’s for the cold plate buffet, which tourists can enjoy at their leisure during the day of the tour.

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