NOTABLE NEIGHBOR: ‘Wildflower Lady’ helps city bloom

EUREKA SPRINGS — Walking through the lobby of the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, Georgette Garner stops every few seconds to talk to one person and then the next. There’s a conference for local mayors at the hotel, and Garner gets busy, encouraging the municipal leaders to begin gardening projects in their cities.

As co-chairman of the city’s America in Bloom beautification program, she’s pushing hard for more cities to become involved with the competition. Lush lawns and gardens at the base of the his- toric Crescent and elsewhere in town are evidence that Garner gets what she wants.

Last year, Eureka Springs was selected from hundreds of entries nationwide for America in Bloom’s Yoder Brothers Heritage Preservation Award. The city is set to host America in Bloom’s 2006 Educational Symposium and Awards Program on Sept. 28-30.

It’s the first time a city so small has landed the honors, and Garner intends to make the most of it.

“[America in Bloom ] is a chance to show your town off to professionals. It’s civic pride because you get excitement in the community [and ] excitement for the town,” says Garner, who sought retirement in Eureka Springs.

She’s earned her moniker, “The Wildflower Lady,” by planting wildflowers at the King’s River bridge in Eureka Springs. She says she started with just a small patch, then “just got so excited” that she began to ask for donations to cover the entire area. Before long, she had turned the area around the eroded bridge into a wildflower paradise. “I just started raising money. I spoke to everybody I could and I told them, ‘ If you buy the seeds, I’ll plant it. ’” She’s since spread her work over 100 or more sites across Carroll County. “I just started creating an atmosphere,” she says. Garner worked closely with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and is willing to teach others how to make the relationship work. She and the department’s assistant chief of engineers, Ralph Hall, will share common goals of the “Stop Littering” and “Operation Wildflower” programs during the forthcoming America in Bloom symposium. Whether it’s trash or tulips, Garner believes community involvement is crucial to creating beautiful and aesthetically pleasing projects. “I just like the idea of people helping each other out and having a fun time. It’s neighbor helping neighbor.”

Notable Neighbor highlights the unusual accomplishments and contributions Northwest Arkansas residents make to the area.

– Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Sept. 3, 2006.

[Original profile available here.]