By Kevin Kelley
Jim Bedell, the city’s new director of planning and economic development, had some difficulty pronouncing a few winners’ names while emceeing his first Westlake in Bloom awards ceremony Aug. 7 at LaCentre Conference and Banquet Facility.
Then he announced a winner whose name he didn’t have any difficulty with – Mary Beth and Jack Bedell, who placed first in the front-yard, small yard category.
“No relation,” the emcee was quick to add.
For the past three years, the Bedells received honorable mentions for the entire small yard category, even though their Settlers Reserve Way home of 18 years has a pretty sizable yard. This year, the gardening contest established new categories in which only front yards or backyards were judged.
For Mary Beth Bedell, gardening continues a family tradition.
“I’ve always loved flowers,” she told West Life. “I know I get it from my mom.”
She recalled that every spring, her mother, Joanne Hoke, would help the Bedells pick out flowers and assist Mary Beth in planting them in the front yard.
Seven years after her mother’s death, Mary Beth finds the flower garden a peaceful place where the memory of her mother is not far away.
Hydrangeas, which were her mother’s favorite flower, are still planted every year by Mary Beth.
But this year, she decided to mix the hydrangeas in with a new combination of flowers. Anchored by two dogwood trees, the front-yard garden includes red geraniums, blue ageratum and white alyssum.
The alyssum, she believes, have an aroma that deer dislike and therefore keep them from eating the other flowers. Ivy, which reduces the need for mulch, and boxwood bushes are also planted in the front yard.
Mary Beth is not a member of any garden club but reads about gardening online and from a few books she inherited from her mother. She also draws inspiration from the gardens at Crocker Park, which include labels for each plant.
The city’s gardening contest is a great idea, she said. She encouraged a fellow Westlake gardener to enter this year by placing an entry form in her friend’s mailbox.
The friendly competition also helps to keep the Bedells’ front yard looking tidy.
“It really motivates me to keep it weeded,” she said of the Bloom contest.