Lakewood OH

Drought means big water bill for Bloom contest winner

Richard and Marilyn Breudigan, winners of the residential large yard category in the 2012 Westlake in Bloom contest, stand in their backyard deck overlooking a backyard garden. (West Life photo by Kevin Kelley)

By Kevin Kelley


Richard and Marilyn Breudigan won a first-place award in the 2012 Westlake in Bloom gardening contest.

Judges said his entry in the “Residential Landscaping – Large Yard” category included a “very original design and choice of materials.”

“Lush grass and nice variety of plant materials,” they added.

But the Breudigans will pay a price when their quarterly water bill comes. Richard Breudigan said he expects it to be between $400 and $500.

That’s the price a conscientious gardener pays to water his plants during a drought.

Mayor Dennis Clough referenced the lack of rain this summer in his remarks at the Volunteers in Bloom awards ceremony and

reception Aug. 2 at LaCentre Conference and Banquet Center.

“It’s been a very tough year because of the hot weather and the lack of rain,” the mayor told the nearly 300 gardeners. “So we know you’ve had to put forth a lot more effort to get the same results that you probably had last year, when we had more rain than we could think about.”

Breudigan said he has spent nearly 500 hours in his Hilliard Boulevard yard this summer, watering, weeding and mulching.

“It’s his full-time job,” his wife joked.

The Breudigans have a sprinkler system only in their front yard. They plan to open an old backyard well for irrigation next year, Richard said.

In gardening terms, this summer has been the worst year in memory, not only in terms of the lack of rain, but also with wild animals eating plants, flowers and vegetables, Richard said.

“It’s like I have ‘Wild Kingdom’ in the backyard,” he said, referring to the TV nature show. Each night he covers plants to protect them from foraging rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels and deer.

Breudigan, who

retired from the engineering sales business, learned gardening from his grandfather and uncle, who owned a 110-acre farm Breudigan worked at in his youth.

“I get about every gardening magazine I can think of,” he said.

Although he didn’t enter it in the Bloom contest, Breudigan is also proud of his 20-by-40-foot vegetable garden at the back of his three-quarters-of-an-acre property.

Over the years, Breudigan said, he has picked up a number of gardening tricks. For example, tomato plants grow better the deeper they are planted, he said.

Breudigan recently pulled out shrubs in favor of annuals, he said. The front and back yard gardens are now filled with impatiens, hydrangeas, sweet kates, Russian sages and mandevillas.

The backyard garden complements a large, covered outdoor deck complete with a bonfire pit nearby.

Marilyn Breudigan said she’s most proud of the variety of plants in their garden. Her husband said he’s most proud of the backyard roses. Knockout roses are very durable and drought-resistant, he added, and don’t need as much care.

The Breudigans have lived on Hilliard Boulevard, where they raised three children, for 36 years. While they’ve always worked hard at landscaping, this year was only the second time they entered the Westlake in Bloom contest. In 2011, they also entered the residential large yard category and placed second.

Previously, they just never paid that much attention to the Bloom contest, Richard explained.

“It’s nice to be acknowledged by the city,” he told West Life.




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