Lewes in Bloom was founded in 2002 by a small group of 7 individuals who received support from a variety of Lewes officials and organizations. Since then, and for the fourth time in the last 15 years, Lewes has been recognized as one of the most beautiful small towns in America with assistance from Lewes in Bloom volunteers, who now number over 180.
In September of 2015, during the America in Bloom Symposium in Holland, Mich., Lewes was named the winner of the Champions Category for small towns.
Lewes has previously won America in Bloom honors in 2010, 2005 and 2003. The Champions Category featured three-time winners and was a new category in the competition this year.
Lewes in Bloom is a volunteer organization, who in 2015-16 spent hundreds of hours planting thousands of bulbs and plants throughout the city. It promotes the beautification and maintenance of Historic Lewes and the community at large. It is dedicated to helping Lewes boost its attractiveness through a variety of efforts including historical preservation, environmental awareness, a children’s garden, Art in Bloom, floral displays, and more. Information on membership and support can be found at www.lewesinbloom.org, or Facebook.
Lewes in Bloom’s Place in Historical Lewes
Text by Sue Sandmeyer
How Did We Get Here?
Fifty years ago, Lewes experienced the collapse of its fisheries, Lewes’s main industry. This forced the city to determine its next direction: Oil or coal port? Develop the beaches, canals and marshes? Bring in entertainment such as roller coasters and boardwalks…or distinguish Lewes as a place of historical significance?
Today it is abundantly clear who prevailed: the historical preservationists. Lewes is considered a model city across Delaware, recognized by Governor Jack Markell, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, The White House, the National Park Service, and the American Association of State and Local History.
What may be even more outstanding than its national recognition is that Lewes’s historical fabric has remained woven together over the many decades and is embraced not only by residents, but by Lewes entities, businesses, and visitors. It’s as if there is a mutual expectation among all residents and visitors that Lewes is special and should be preserved. Lewes in Bloom is vital to the City of Lewes’ uniqueness and has carefully cultivated its relationship with other key Lewes entities. LIB works closely with the Chamber of Commerce, Bureau of Public Works, the Parks and Recreation Commission, City Hall, the Mayor, the Lewes Public Library, City Council, the Greater Lewes Foundation, Lewes Historical Society, and other groups and individuals.
Lewes is indeed a city that has created its future by embracing its past. Like so many volunteer entities in Lewes, including Lewes in Bloom, the success has come about due to creative partnerships and models that involve the entire city. No one volunteer entity alone can succeed.
How Lewes in Bloom Shapes Our Community
Text by Sue Sandmeyer
How we got started, our vision, growth, and accomplishments
A resident once told Warren Golde, Lewes in Bloom’s founder, that he “drives over the bridge as many times a day as I can because it lifts my spirits”. The resident was describing how he feels when he sees the Lewes/Rehoboth Canal’s hayrack planters spilling over with lush annuals. These planters, along with more than a dozen parks and other spaces were brought to life by Warren’s vision for what a town should be: ”a caring place that preserves, protects, and nurtures the community”.
With a vision for beauty and an inspiring trip to our sister city, Lewes, England, his vision blossomed and the city of Lewes has been transformed over the last 15 years with large scale vistas. Lewes in Bloom began by employing America in Bloom’s principles and concepts. (America in Bloom is a national organization of cities of all sizes that promotes planting pride throughout the U.S.) To get started, Warren engaged the City of Lewes and the Chamber of Commerce. With their encouragement and the support of seven volunteers – LIB began in 2002. Today, businesses, individuals and municipal entities continue to support LIB because of its role in beautifying Lewes and nurturing historical preservation.
In 2002, a small number of sites in the downtown area were planted. The volunteers who planted and maintained the sites also watered them, by bringing jugs of water in their trunks to each site. Today, LIB waterers use a truck and empty more than 600 gallons of water per watering, at least 3 times a week. The watering takes 4-6 hours. Membership in LIB has now grown to more than 200 volunteers who raise funds, promote LIB, develop educational and social programs, and plant, weed and maintain LIB gardens.
LIB is recognized nationally. Its beautification efforts along with other Lewes entities allowed the city to be named the winner of the Champions Category for small towns at the 2015 America in Bloom Symposium in Holland, MI in 2015. This is the fourth time that Lewes has been recognized as one of the most beautiful small towns in the country. Lewes has previously won America in Bloom honors in 2010, 2005, and 2003. The Champions Category won in 2015 featured three-time winners and was a new category in the competition. The America in Bloom judges said, “It is obvious that the Lewes in Bloom program has a major impact on the city. Its expansion has involved so many new volunteers. Repeatedly, the residents told us how much the LIB program has pulled the city together on many fronts. Efforts to create the overall colorful floral displays, extensive attractive landscaping, new tree plantings, tree inventory, and rejuvenation of historic structures truly transformed the city’s downtown area.” All participants were evaluated on six criteria: overall impression, environmental awareness, heritage preservation, urban forestry, landscape, and floral displays. Additionally they were judged on their community involvement across municipal, residential, and commercial sectors. America in Bloom is the only national awards program that sends specially trained judges to personally visit participants. Lewes received a top five bloom rating out of a possible five blooms. It also won in its competition category and received a special mention for its community’s floral displays. Lewes was up against Echo, Ore.; Gallipolis, Ohio; Greendale, Ind.; and McCall, Idaho. We were also judged on our community involvement across municipal, residential, and commercial sectors. Lewes in Bloom continues to thrive in a city that very much appreciates our work. As our vision evolves to creating and fostering Art in Bloom and a potential Garden for All Ages, we continue to maintain our role in preserving, protecting, and nurturing the spaces where we work, play and live.