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January 10, 2013
GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Begonias will replace impatiens next year in municipal flower gardens.

The switch stems from lingering contamination by downy mildew.

The fungus attacked impatiens so thoroughly last year the ornamental flowers were pulled from the ground before fall.

Downy mildew is composed of hardy spores that linger in soil for at least one growing season, making last year’s beds untenable for impatiens in 2013.

Infestation also carries economic consequences to the Grosse Pointe Shores Beautification Advisory Committee, which plants and tends municipal gardens.

“We will have to purchase additional flats of flowers, since begonias do not spread as well as impatiens,” said Helen Bai, committee chairwoman, during a year-end review last month.

Bai looks forward to next spring, which will mark the forth consecutive year for the committee’s Sponsor-a-Garden program to privately fund city-owned gardens.

Sponsors donated $5,425 last year to adopt 48 municipal gardens, up from 27 gardens when sponsorships launched in 2010.

“In 2012, the total cost of purchasing flowers and bulbs has been covered by revenues raised through our project,” Bai said.

Keep Michigan Beautiful thought so highly of sponsorships it awarded its highest honor, the Presidents’ Plaque, to the Shores.

Imitation is the best form of flattery, and Bai was pleased to advise counterparts on the City of Grosse Pointe beautification commission how to set up garden sponsorships of their own.

Atypical activities by Bai’s group during 2012 included hosting the Beautification Council of Southeast Michigan summer meeting.

“It is a group of 40-plus communities that get together quarterly,” Bai said.

The all-day meeting was at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House.

“Doug Conley, the master gardener and head gardener at the Ford House, was our speaker,” Bai said. “He arranged a special tour for about 100 people who attended.”

A new activity last year was participating in Keep America Beautiful’s American Recycle Day.

Among potential projects this year may be creation of a rain garden along the lines of one installed a few years ago at Farms Pier Park.

“Their rain garden takes runoff from one of their buildings and completely waters a small garden,” said Councilwoman Kay Felt.

She toured the garden with its designer Lev Wood, a Farms councilman.

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Ed Rinke