Volunteers maintain flowers in downtown Marshalltown on daily basis

This article was first published in the Times-Republican on June 5, 2019.

The flower baskets of the Marshalltown Central Business District provide beauty after a disaster and greenery in an urban jungle to the residents of Marshalltown as they drive or walk down Main Street.

There are two flower baskets on each light pole which totals 96 baskets from Third Street to Third Avenue. All of these baskets are provided by Isle of Green and each basket has 13 plants per basket.

Only six of the baskets were destroyed in the July 2018 tornado.

“We found the rest and these are really hardy plants, my team kept watering and they survived through it all,” said Jenny Etter, director of the Marshalltown Central Business District.

The flower baskets are hung from June 3 until after Oktemberfest in the beginning of October. Throughout these four months the flowers are taken care of by volunteers who go out and water them every day with a water tank pulled by a utility vehicle.

Eric Holmgren, chair of the design committee for the Marshalltown Central Business District, said there are over 70 volunteers this year composed of groups from different businesses and individuals from the community.

“We couldn’t pull this off without all the volunteers who get up at the crack of dawn every day to water these flowers,” Etter said.

The cost of all the flowers and other associated costs are paid for through donations from the community. To donate or volunteer, go to https://www.marshalltownmainstreet.org

“I think these baskets are really pretty and bring the community together, when I was a student volunteering I did it to give back and make Marshalltown better,” Holmgren said.

About the flowers

The flowers are wave petunias which are commonly known for widespread and trailing shape, according to Landscape America, which make them suited for the hanging baskets. Until 1995, standard petunias had a spread of only 12 inches, but these new plants had a spreading habit that grew to a width of four feet with a tidy height of only four to seven inches.

There are five different types of wave petunias.

The first type is the wave, which has easy care and a “spiller effect” that makes it better suited for hanging baskets. This type of wave petunia has colors of purple, pink, rose, lavender and blue.

The second type is the easy wave which has the same easy care but has a shorter spread and an expanded color selection which includes white, pink, red, purple and rosy dawn, which is pink with a white throat.

The third type is the double wave which has double petunias that grow on plants with a two-to-three-foot spread and a compact height of four to six inches and colors that include white, pink, lavender, blue velvet, which is dark purple and blue vein, which is lavender with contrasting purple veins.

The fourth type is the tidal wave which were nicknamed “hedgiflora” petunias because of their ability to form a small hedge when they are spaced close together. Flower colors include purple, hot pink and silver, which is white with a purple-veined throat. Although they are not true vines, with support tidal wave petunias can grow upward to cover structures such as fences.

The fifth and newest type is the shock wave which is smaller than the other wave types and has colors that include pink, rose, coconut and denim.

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Contact Logan Metzger at 641-753-6611 or lmetzger@timesrepublican.com