Wednesday, June 29, 2011

You Grow Girl!

Barbara Vincentsen, a Westfield resident, has become a judge for the 2011 America in Bloom competition. She is the owner of Vincentsen Associates, a medium-sized award-winning architectural firm that operates locally. Barbara comes from a gardening family and has continued her family tradition in her own gardens, which have plantings shared from three generations of close family and friends. Her garden was featured in last year’s Westfield in Bloom program.

Barbara is a licensed architect in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York, and is a licensed professional planner and certified interior designer in New Jersey. She is actively involved in the community, serving on the boards of the Friends of Mindowaskin Park Committee and Fairview Cemetery Committee. She is a member of the Westfield Service League and Downtown Westfield Corporation Design Committee, and a past president of Central Section of New Jersey Chapter of the AIA.

Her job as an America in Bloom judge entails writing a detailed evaluation highlighting strengths and listing areas of possible improvements. This position requires extreme dedication and expertise.

We are very proud to have one of our residents become closely involved with America in Bloom, an association that Westfield has partnered with for the past two years. Barbara’s dedication to both our town and the nation-wide campaign serves as a model example.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

‘Westfield in Bloom’ Poster Arrives at Memorial Library

To continue to educate the public on Westfield in Bloom initiatives, the Downtown Westfield Corporation (DWC) has provided the Westfield Memorial Library with an informational poster. The poster encourages people to take pride in their town and get involved in Westfield in Bloom. We are asking for volunteers, and for people to send in pictures of their gardens and what they are doing to make Westfield a better place. This helps document all initiatives taken to help the Town. The poster also provides a few simple steps to becoming more environmentally friendly. Free seed packets are also available for anyone to take and plant. The special mix attracts monarch butterflies.



Still confused about what ‘Westfield in Bloom’ actually is? For the past two years, Westfield has entered the America in Bloom competition (locally known as Westfield in Bloom). America in Bloom (AIB) is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting nationwide beautification programs and personal and community involvement through the use of flowers, plants, trees, and other environmental and lifestyle enhancements. The nation-wide grassroots program believes that connecting people and plants is important to everyone’s quality of life. While providing a framework for continuous improvements in communities, America in Bloom’s competition judges cities and towns on eight criteria: Tidiness Effort, Community Involvement, Environmental Effort, Landscaped Areas, Turf & Ground Cover Areas, Heritage Preservation, Floral Display, and Urban Forestry. Westfield was honored to receive the top prize for towns their size in the 2010 America in Bloom competition and won the Landscaped Areas Award for all entrants across the country.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Flower Power

Union County Master Gardeners Sandi Schroeder and Joann Gornowski gave over 700 flowers and greens to cancer survivors at the American Cancer Society’s 10th Annual Relay For Life in Berkeley Heights, NJ for the fourth year. Simon Cancer Center at Overlook Medical Center in Summit chaired the Survivors’ Reception and was overjoyed to be the recipients of the gracious donation. UC Master Gardeners Schroeder and Gornowski created floral arrangements to decorate 34 guest table and speaker bouquets. Four large vases, which were placed on the catering tables, were filled with beautiful flowers such as peonies, roses, foxglove, tulips, carnations, alstromeria, snapdragons, and hyacinth. A special bouquet was given to the Reception’s guest survivor speaker, Deborah Woodbury. 88 cancer survivors, friends, and family were in attendance for a total of 200 guests.

Registered guests at the event were given a t-shirt and a plotted plant from Seeds for Hope, a nonprofit (502c3) organization founded by Schroeder. The organization purchases seeds, plants and flowers for the Flower Cutting Gardens with the help from donations.
Aside from the reception, Schroeder and Gornowski also donate floral arrangements to the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center lobby. Their beautiful flowers add color to the center and bring smiles to visitors.

“Since 2007, Master Gardeners Sandi Schroeder, Joann Gornowski and their team of Master Gardeners have donated more than 14,000 flowers and greens from their Flower Cutting Gardens and from the nonprofit Seeds For Hope. The flowers were given for the benefit of cancer patients and survivors not only at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, but at the Wellness Community of Central Jersey, the Susan G. Komen North Jersey Foundation and, most recently, the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation of Scotch Plains. On Sunday, June 12, ECF hosted an afternoon tea for mothers of children diagnosed with cancer.

In May 2011, the Master Gardeners of Union County were pleased and gratified to receive a grant of $1,895 from the Westfield Foundation to purchase and install new fencing around one of their Flower Cutting Gardens. This garden was previously besieged by small animals.

An estimated 1,500 people participated in the 10th Annual Relay For Life, held on June 3-4, at Governor Livingston High School in Berkeley Heights. The event raised $350,000 for the American Cancer Society. As host of the event’s Survivors’ Reception, the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center raised funds through bake sales, a donation from Art at Overlook, and grants from pharmaceutical companies Genentech and Celgene (Summit). They also sponsored a bounce-house ride for children, located near the Relay For Life walking track. For more information on the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, visit atlantichealth.org/simon/. For more information on Relay for Life, visit relayforlife.com.

The Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County are community volunteers who provide gardening and land stewardship services to the general public. They cultivate Demonstration Gardens in the Watchung Reservation next to the Union County Science Center in Mountainside. RMGUC is headquartered at 300 North Ave. East in Westfield.” (nj.com)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Garden Club of Westfield Wins Moorestown Garden Club Trophy

A big congratulation to the Garden Club of Westfield! On June 8th, at the Annual Meeting of the Garden Club of New Jersey, the Garden Club of Westfield won the Moorestown Club Trophy. Their submission of a Book of Evidence detailed their Garden Tour in June 2010. The Garden Club of Westfield had been awarded for "actively supporting & working for community gardening outside the club.” Their efforts serve as a catalyst in Westfield’s beautification process. Garden Tours both stimulate and educate homeowners to actively participate in gardening in the community by stabling gardens on their own properties.

The club will continue to push for active involvement. In April 2012 the club will hold a Garden Education Day for the entire community.

Thank you Jane Curtis for sharing this story!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sandy Ciasco Thinks Outside the Classroom



Tamaques Elementary School, located in Westfield, NJ, is a place for students to grow and learn. In past years, the school has provided gardens for outdoor learning. Outdoor learning is a way to connect children with the environment and nature. The garden had previously been maintained by both the kindergarten class and their teacher. Today Tamaques’ grade levels no longer include Kindergarten. Furthermore, due to the unfortunate passing of the school’s Kindergarten teacher the garden has been since ignored.



Westfield resident and involved PTO Mom, Sandy Ciasco, has taken a proactive approach towards the revamping of the school’s garden in order to continue with its original initiative. A mother of two, Ciasco’s daughter is a 1st grade student at Tamaques. Her goal is to transform the area into a butterfly garden exhibit. The up-and-coming school garden also parallels this year’s Westfield in Bloom’s theme to ‘attract the butterflies’.

During school lessons first grade students learn about butterfly life cycles and have the opportunity to actually grow them from larva. Students brought in egg cartons and were able to observe the entire cycle. By motivating other town parents, Ciasco was determined to bring the garden back to life so these lessons can be held where they should be: outdoors. The determined Mother put her green thumb to work by spending countless hours weeding, mulching, planting, and watering. Combined efforts of other volunteers brought in plants, seeds, and mulch. 90 yogurt cups of seeds were planted. With the lack of rain weather only five of those cups were a success. Determined, Ciasco and her team haven’t given up. Aside from the butterfly garden (which is mainly dedicated to first graders), a vegetable garden is also being planted for second grade educational purposes. Projects to continue gardening and planting are currently in progress.

The community’s involvement has sparked excitement throughout Tamaques School. The Principal at Tamaques School is equally as involved. He personally bought mulch and seeds for the school’s gardens. Ciasco herself bought 14 bags of soil. Tamaques Principal is seeing these initiatives to their full potential. Proposed and fully supported by the Principal, fundraising for an outdoor class to begin next year is currently underway. The class would be primarily for 4th and 5th grade students as an elective class.


It is the work of volunteers like Sandy Ciasco that keeps Westfield blooming. Thank you Mrs. Ciasco for sharing with us your inspiring story!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tweet, Tweet!

The Downtown Westfield Corporation (DWC) is now on Twitter! While being used for updates on downtown information and events, the DWC also uses the account to keep followers current with Westfield in Bloom activities. Follow us @westfieldtoday

Calling All Landscapers!

This year Westfield will once again participate in the America in Bloom competition (locally known as Westfield in Bloom), and we need your help!

America in Bloom (AIB) is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting nationwide beautification programs and personal and community involvement through the use of flowers, plants, trees, and other environmental and lifestyle enhancements. The nation-wide grassroots program believes that connecting people and plants is important to everyone’s quality of life. While providing a framework for continuous improvements in communities, America in Bloom’s competition judges cities and towns on eight criteria: Tidiness Effort, Community Involvement, Environmental Effort, Landscaped Areas, Turf & Ground Cover Areas, Heritage Preservation, Floral Display, and Urban Forestry. Westfield was honored to receive the top prize for towns their size in the 2010 America in Bloom competition and won the Landscaped Areas Award for all entrants across the country. Perhaps, the efforts of your company greatly contributed to this award as the judges noted that “the landscaped areas were all neat and well-conceived, the entire residential area of the city was impressive, [and] all yards were crisply landscaped and evidenced an overall pride of community.”

“Westfield in Bloom” is co-lead by Sherry Cronin, Downtown Westfield Corporation, and Dave Williams of Williams Nursery. We need YOUR help to make Westfield even more beautiful. Judges come August 1 and 2, and there is still much to be done. This is where you come in. Your individual amount of participation is of course up to you. From landscaping or gardening donations such as soil, flowers or plants to volunteering with watering, weeding, and planting, there are many ways to get involved. While thinking about your options remember; what you put in, is what you will get out. Information on the most beautifully landscaped households is also needed. A part of the judges tour consists of Westfield’s residential areas, pictures and/or contact information regarding your favorite landscape jobs would be greatly appreciated as well.

Why should you get involved? Your company is part of the local community and while your main focus is on your business’s success, without a high functioning and thriving community, your business would be clientless. Your community and your customers are not mutually exclusive. As your individual marketing plan is unique to your business, community involvement may be either a major or minor part of your public relations strategy. Additionally, the publicity that you will receive as part of Westfield in Bloom by the various media outlets can help your business in many ways. This may provide more awareness of your company in your target market, which can have a much better financial benefit than a simple tax deduction.

Your efforts will market your business, increase your reputation, and most importantly beautify Westfield. Please contact Sherry Cronin; Executive Director, the Downtown Westfield Corporation (DWC) as soon as possible if you are interested, or need any additional information at 908-789-9444 or by email at s.cronin@westfieldtoday.com. Check out our blog at www.WestfieldinBloom.com. We look forward to hearing from you. Thank you in advance!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Westfield 9/11 Memorial Landscape Enhanced

A big thank you goes out to the members of the Newcomers Club of Westfield working with the Department of Public Works who cut grasses and delivered mulch. Volunteers from the club weeded the entire back section, mulched the area, and planted Hostas. To continue with Westfield in Bloom efforts to “attract the butterflies” to the town, butterfly plants were planted around the memorial obelisk. Volunteers like the Newcomers Club of Westfield are what keep our town thriving!

Thank you Natalia Goldman for providing us with the picture!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Monarchs Spread Their Wings and Joy in Westfield



The 2011 Westfield in Bloom project is a continuous effort to beautify the Town. Inspired by Westfield Resident, Diane Genco, this year’s theme involves attracting Monarch butterflies. Genco’s green, flower filled backyard is a certified Monarch Waystation. It is here where she raises, tags, and documents the life of a Monarch butterfly. She doesn’t stop here. As an executive director, Genco started the campaign for after school students called “Outdoors in the Garden State”. This program gets kids outdoors and connects them with both the community and nature.

This year Westfield in Bloom is following in Genco’s footsteps. Local volunteers and organizations have joined forces to plant flowers that attract these butterflies. Westfield in Bloom will focus on attracting these butterflies due to the dwindling numbers of the species. Not only are butterflies aesthetically pleasing, but they will also serve as pollinators for Westfield’s plant life.



A special thanks to Diane Genco for providing us with the picture of her beautiful granddaughter! We only hope others can share the same joy of the Monarchs!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Flowers and Flags to welcome you to Westfield!



The Central Avenue gateway has been enhanced with beautiful hanging baskets and flags as you enter or leave Downtown Westfield. Thanks to Williams Nursery and Downtown Westfield Corporation staff, Queen of Balcon ivy geraniums were recently planted in the baskets and new flags were installed on the light poles thanks to Chip Hillyer of North Flags.


The Queen of Balcon ivy geranium pink and white has been chosen as the flower of choice in the downtown planters on the light poles and the Central Avenue fence.

Westfield Spreads Its Wings in the 2011 America in Bloom Competition





After last year’s four bloom rating and two awards, the Downtown Westfield Corporation (DWC) and David Williams of Williams Nursery have expanded their efforts for the National America in Bloom Competition, locally known as “Westfield in Bloom”. As part of the kickoff to this year’s competition, team members of Keller Williams Realty again joined forces and donated a garden to Westfield as part of their National RED (Renew, Energize, Donate) Day. Last year, Keller Williams Realty donated and planted the beautiful rose garden at the North Avenue Train Station. This year, Keller Williams Realty donated and planted the entrance to the large municipal on Elm Street, (near Trader Joe’s) by planting perennial sedum plants with an additional goal to attract butterflies too!

Of the 28 towns which participated in last year’s competition, Westfield NJ has received two of the top prizes in the competition. In order to compete in America in Bloom, Westfield’s community will be scored and judged based upon eight criteria: floral displays, tidiness, landscaped areas, urban forestry, heritage, community involvement, turf and groundcovers, and environmental effort. Working to receive the same gratification this year, businesses, individuals and organizations are encouraged to participate with their own plantings and beautification projects.



Participants in ‘Westfield in Bloom’ may also compete for awards in categories such as: Best Window Boxes, Best Storefronts, Best Planters, Best of Westfield, Best Kid's Gardens, and Best Gardens. Having the community get involved not only helps Westfield Bloom, but instills a sense of pride in the community.



This year’s theme of ‘Attracting the Butterflies’ presents a new goal for the team. Inspired by Diane Genco, local resident and host of a certified Monarch Waystation, Diane has been an active supporter in “Westfield in Bloom”. Diane has been teaching the community about butterflies and gardening for many years. Westfield in Bloom’s theme is to attract monarch butterflies due to the dwindling numbers of the species. These butterflies will also serve as pollinators for Westfield’s plant life.



Free ‘Westfield in Bloom’ butterfly mix seed packets are available at the Downtown Westfield Corporation office at 105 Elm Street, as well as Williams Nursery, 524 Springfield Avenue, Westfield, NJ.

America in Bloom is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting nationwide beautification programs and personal and community involvement through the use of flowers, plants, trees, and other environmental and lifestyle enhancements. America in Bloom provides educational programs, resources, and the challenge of a friendly competition between participating communities across the country.

For more information, visit americainbloom.org or westfieldinbloom.com.
Photo by Millicent K. Brody.


Photo caption: As part of their national RED (Renew, Energize, Donate – Give Where You Live) Day, Keller Williams, the second largest real estate company in America, associates worked with Dave Williams of Williams Nursery and Sherry Cronin, Downtown Westfield Corporation for a ‘Westfield in Bloom’ project. Keller Williams associates included: Cara Moxley and Howard Bunn, Operating Partners of the Summit Office and Amy Tenny, Team Leader. Associates included: Robert Winter, Jen Colamedici, Teri Malone, Pat Marlinski, Jen Lovito, Susan Powell, Beverly Caldora, Susan Massa, Maureen Illanovsky, Jerry Illanovsky, Mike Cain, Laura Brockway, and David Lluberes.