AKA “Flower Felons”
As the last rays of summer sun were kissing the Valley floor this week, I decided to take a drive in search for a cover story. Passing by the Pub, in downtown Winter Park, I decided to stop and smell the roses quite literally, because I noticed, buried deep in their work on the side of the road, there were four girls, the flower girls of Winter Park. I sat on a nearby bench for a few minutes as they popped, cut and picked the deadheads from the bed, filling buckets and buckets, and, as it goes, a story unfolded.
The Flower Crew of Winter Park or AKA “Flower Felons” spend a lot of time laughing, joking and waving at a passersby. The work is tedious and the hours are long but there is love that goes into the work. The team of six is lead by – the Empress, Duchess and/or Flower Mistress – Amy Benson. The day I stopped by, two of the crew were enjoying time off but Amy wanted to give a shout out to Lucy Bindio and Alicia Moore. Benson’s crew of full time staff run their fingers over almost every plant and flower each week.
Plucking, snipping and popping deadheads. It’s a ritual, “it’s almost therapeutic” said Natalie MacLean. “They need a lot of love to stay so beautiful!”
The crew starts cleaning flower beds mid-May to prepare for the flowers. Due to the short growing season, the plan is for the flowers to peak around the Fourth of July. They spend much of their time early in the season making sure the gardens have enough moisture to take hold. They buy the majority of their fauna locally but would love to have a Greenhouse so they could start their own crop in the winter.
According to Benson, they have well over 50 types of flowers and plants under their care. They water twice a week and plant flowers that can handle the climate challenges of a short season at altitude. Amy also said they gather a couple of truck loads of deadheads a week. They put them in their compost pile to rejuvenate the soil. “We work hard to make the town beautiful,” says Amy, and the visitors appreciate it. Occasionally a visitor will stop by and say “our flowers are the most beautiful of all the mountain towns.”
The flower crew will start removing flowers the third week of September. They will remove all annuals and cut back the perennials. The final step is covering the beds in preparation for winter. If you are lucky, stop over and say hello while they are clearing the beds and, you may get a bit of Kale to take home. When you see the team at work, slow down and honk or wave to let them know you appreciate the work they’re doing.