Act of Kindness - Public Works Department

Shopping DowntownAct of Kindness - Public Works Department

Written by Kathy Witt

Symbols of hope and gratitude, multiplied by 1,320. That’s what is planted in downtown Georgetown as winter transitions to spring
Each year, the employees of the Georgetown Public Works Department roll up their sleeves and get to work, hauling out the baskets and barrels that line the main streets in preparation for the colorful blooms that enhance the beauty, appeal and walkability of Georgetown.

“They always help make our town beautiful,” said Bailey Gilkerson, marketing director at Georgetown/Scott County Tourism.

“We hang around 50 baskets on the light poles and there are 60 half whiskey barrels that have flowers in them as well,” said Public Works Director Robert Bruin.

Public WorksThe flowers, all 1,320 of them, are supplied by Bi-Water Farm and Greenhouse, a 184-acre family owned- and operated farm and Kentucky Proud member known for its fresh produce and variety of flowers, including annuals, perennials, roses, tomatoes, herbs and peppers. The plants are started in March and, after the threat of frost is over – usually about two weeks before Memorial Day – out come the flower baskets and whiskey barrels (so fitting for the Birthplace of Bourbon).

Downtown Steven Hockensmith“For the hanging baskets, we use a combination of newer types of petunias so that we get maximum disease resistance and best flowering,” said Stephen Fister, owner of Bi-Water Farm. “The basis of the petunias is Bubblegum pink and the newer ColorRush series.”

In gardening parlance, these fillers and spillers presents mounds of color that bloom freely all season long and can hold up in heat and rain.

The choice for the ground planters in the past has been Dragon Wing begonias, showy heat loving high-performers with clusters of bell-like blooms set off by their glossy, wing-shaped leaves.

“We are mixing them up with newer Big Begonias,” said Stephen. These are the largest and most vigorous among begonias, the hardy plants thriving in heat and humidity, sun or shade – whatever Mother Nature throws at them.

In the language of flowers, begonias can denote caution but are also a sign of gratitude or respect. Petunias convey the desire to never lose hope. Both flowers and their meanings are so fitting in a town like Georgetown where so many people, from city employees to farmers to volunteers, join forces to add color and beauty to the streetscape, which in turn elevates the quality of life for all who live there and visit.

Once the Public Works Department has placed the baskets and barrels, Bi-Water Farm maintains and waters them throughout the season, from about May until late October. 

 Downtown flowers

Getting the flowers into position isn’t all the Public Works Department does in its quest to keep downtown Georgetown ready for her close-up. The department spearheads the annual spring cleanup downtown and changes out the downtown banners.

“We sweep and paint the curbs and light poles when needed,” said Robert. “We also put up the American flags and decorative banners on the light poles.”

As for that most wonderful time of year. 

Public works Christmas Tree

“We put up the Christmas tree and decorate the streetlights downtown,” he noted.

The flowers for downtown Georgetown are funded by Georgetown/Scott County Tourism with assistance from Celebrate Georgetown.


Author: Kathryn Witt

Kathryn Witt is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer, syndicated columnist and author of several books, including Secret Cincinnati, The Secret of the Belles and Atlanta Georgia: A Photographic Portrait. A member of SATW, Authors Guild and the Society of Children’s Books & Illustrators, she lives in northern Kentucky.


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